Oil tankers attacked in Gulf of Oman

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Two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, about 56 NM east of Fujairah, sending global oil prices rising

22626307427 4f2f364f06 zThis is the second serious incident in a month involving tanker shipping near the strait. (Image source: Frans Berkelaar/Flickr)

The two tankers are identified as the Front Altair managed by Frontline and the Kokuka Courageous managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority stated that after being ‘attacked’ along with the Singapore-owned Kokuka Courageous ship, three explosions were reported on board the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair. The causes of the blasts were unclear.

The crew from both vessels were reported to be taken on board the Iranian navy rescue vessels and transferred to Bandar-e-Jask port.

Refinitiv Oil research published last year the geographical importance of the Strait of Hormuz and whether the threats from Iran to close the Strait could actually be implemented with the potential impact on the oil markets.

This is the second serious incident in a month involving tanker shipping near the strait. The strait is of particular importance as about 20mn bpd of oil and gas flows through them and any disruption to the shipping channel or traffic is bound to have a significant impact on the global oil markets. This was evident with oil prices rising by as much as four per cent on Thursday morning following the news of the two attacks.

Timeline of events as it occurred based on vessel tracking data:

The vessel Front Altair loaded 75,000mn of Naphtha from the Takreer Refinery Terminal in Ruwais, UAE and departed port 19:30 GMT on 11 June. After crossing the Strait of Hormuz at around 21:00 GMT on 12 June, data from Refinitiv Oil Research shows that the vessel took a sharp deviation from its course at 02:47 GMT on 13 June with the speed dropping from 13.5 knots to eventually mid-sea drifting.

At the same time (02:47 GMT), the vessel Hyundai Dubai managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement GMBH was 6.8 NM away from Front Altair and can be seen making a sharp course correction towards the vessel, most likely on receiving the distress alert. Vessel tracks show the Hyundai Dubai to have stopped near Front Altair between 03:30–03:50 GMT, possibly to pick up the crew who left the vessel following the fire reportedly caused by a surface missile.

The vessel Kokuka Courageous was carrying Methanol in two port loads in Mesaieed, Qatar and Jubail, Saudi Arabia, bound to Singapore. The 27 K MT DWT tanker departed Jubail on 10 June at 07:00 GMT and crossed the Hormuz Strait on 12 June at 21:00 GMT. This vessel also seems to have been under attack around the same time and was seen stopping at 06:20 GMT on 13 June, about 80 NM east of Fujairah.

The ship’s managers–Bernhard Schulte released an official statement that a suspected attack resulted in a breach of the hull above the water line on the Starboard side. It has been reported by the Japanese shipping company–Kokuka Sangyo President, that its ship was hit twice over a three hour period.

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