World Media

Two missiles hit Iran-owned oil tanker, National Iranian Oil Company says

The agency claimed the explosion had set the oil tanker on fire near the Saudi port city of Jeddah in what they called a

Prices for US crude initially spiked as high as $54.87 a barrel on fears that the incident might open a new chapter of tensions between the Gulf's two biggest political rivals.

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Friday expressed concerns over oil spill from the damaged Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea, which might result in environmental pollution.

It was an apparent retaliation to an Iranian oil tanker being detained off the coast of Gibraltar by British Royal Marines two weeks before. Tehran has denied having a role in any of the attacks since May.

Despite the growing risk to Middle Eastern supplies, crude prices have been depressed by fears of an economic slowdown due to the US-China trade dispute.

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which oversees the Mideast, says it was aware of the incident, but declined to immediately comment further.

NIOC identified the ship as Sabiti, a Suezmax vessel after initial reports had said it was the Sinopa, another Suezmax ship.

The Sabiti was fully laden with crude and heading toward the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, according to Florian Thaler, chief executive of data analytics firm OilX.

The incident could also intensify tensions between Iran and the U.S. that began over a year ago when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on Iran, crushing its economy. USA sanctions have slashed Iranian oil exports, on which Tehran relies.

"Those behind the attack are responsible for the consequences of this unsafe adventure, including the risky environmental pollution caused", Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV.

Mousavi also said that Iranian tankers have been targeted by "damaging activities" over recent months in the Red Sea.

Iran's Nour news agency, close to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, later said the situation was under control and no crew members were injured.

Friday's initial boost from the Iranian news wore off as trading continued. Output has since been restored.

The US had initially pledged to send in more soldiers soon after the attack, saying it was in response to "the kingdom's request". He said the incident was under investigation.

Iran, which has supported the Houthis' fight against the Saudi-backed government in Sana'a, has denied any involvement in the attack. Disruption to shipping through Red Sea would affect oil passing through the Suez Canal or SUMED crude pipeline, which has a capacity for 2.34 million bpd and which runs parallel to the canal.

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