Two Saudi Arabian oil tankers were among several attacked by saboteurs off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the port of Fukairah, according to a statement Monday by the Riyadh government.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in the statement that the attack aimed to undermine maritime freedom and the security of oil supplies to consumers worldwide. He also said the attacks caused “significant damage” to the vessels, including one that was en route from the port of Ras Tanura to pick up Saudi oil for delivery to the United States for state-owned Aramco.
The Saudi vessels were identified as the VLCC tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, both owned by Bahri.
A total of four commercial vessels were damaged in the attacks; a Norwegian company said it owned one, and Saudi Arabia owns two. The fourth was a fuel bunker barge sailing under the flag of the UAE, according to Reuters.
No casualties were reported.
Emirati officials have declined to provide details about the nature of the sabotage, or to speculate on who might have been responsible.
Iran’s foreign ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and called for an investigation. But Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has also repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz – which separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula – if Tehran’s oil exports were shut down. A fifth of the global oil traffic passes through the narrow waterway in order to get from Middle East crude producers to major markets around the world.
The U.S. has warned that “Iran or its proxies” may be targeting maritime traffic in the region.