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Oil spill as Iran tanker hit by ‘terrorist missile attack’ just outside Saudi coast

An Iranian tanker was hit by two explosions near the Saudi coast [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2019

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An Iranian oil tanker has become to the first from its country to be targeted following a spate of attacks on vessels in the Gulf.

Suspected missile strikes hit an Iranian tanker near the Saudi coast on Friday, its owner said, causing oil to leak from the vessel into the Red Sea off the major port of Jeddah.

The tanker is the first Iranian vessel to be targeted since a spate of attacks in the Gulf Washington blamed on Tehran.

The National Iranian Tanker Company, which owns the ship, said the hull of the Sabiti was hit by two separate explosions off the Saudi coast, saying they were "probably caused by missile strikes".

Images purportedly of the damanged tanker have circulated on social media, however the The New Arab could not verify them.

Tehran confirmed the strike and called it a "terrorist attack.

Price spike

Oil prices surged more than two percent on the news, which raised new supply concerns with tensions still high after last month's attacks on two Saudi crude facilities.

The news sent Brent crude surging 2.3 percent to $60.46, while West Texas Intermediate jumped 2.1 percent to $54.69. Prices had already been rising on growing hopes for a breakthrough in the China-US trade talks.

The blasts come just weeks after two of Saudi Arabia's biggest oil installations were hit, wiping out five percent of global production.

The National Iranian Tanker Company said the hull of the vessel was hit by two separate explosions about 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the Saudi coast. 

It identified the tanker as the Sabiti and said the blasts were "probably caused by missile strikes".

"All the ship's crew are safe and the ship is stable too," NITC said, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage.

According to Iranian state television, the blasts could have been the result of a "terrorist attack."

Conflicting reports

Iran's state-owned company said that contrary to reports, "there is no fire aboard the ship and the ship is completely stable".

Earlier in the day, there was confusion about the name of the vessel involved.

Read more: After Aramco attack: A Middle East closer to its '1914 moment'

TankerTrackers, a site that monitors maritime traffic, identified the ship as the Sinopa.

The explosions on the Sabiti come just weeks after a spate of still unexplained attacks on shipping in and around the vital seaway to the Gulf.

Washington accused Tehran of attacking the vessels with mines - charges Iran has strongly denied.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

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