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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)"

How Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz Could Affect Oil Prices

The Strait of Hormuz, sometimes described as the world’s most important oil choke point, is a gateway for almost a third of all crude oil and other petroleum products carried by tanker.

But it is also an increasingly dangerous place because of recent attacks on tankers, raising fears that the route is vulnerable to assaults that could threaten and destabilize oil prices.

After the apparent attack on Thursday on two tankers just outside the strait, tanker operators were quick to voice concerns.

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flag transiting that crucial sea lane,” said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156389934_4c7179ca-0b51-4123-bfa1-f856f46e9f2b-articleLarge How Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz Could Affect Oil Prices Strait of Hormuz Ships and Shipping Pipelines Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

An oil tanker after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman.CreditIranian Students’ News Agency, via, Reuters

The oil-producing countries around the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, are crucial for supplying the world oil market. Most of their exports, around 18 million barrels a day or about 20 percent of world demand, must travel through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait, separating the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran, is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Dozens of ships a day move through the passage.

The bulk of this traffic heads for Asian markets like China, India and Japan. Large volumes of liquefied natural gas, an increasingly important fuel, follow the same route from the tiny emirate of Qatar.

But this area has been rocked by instability in recent weeks. In May, there were reports that four oil vessels were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, heightening concerns over rising tensions between Iran and the United States. A day later, a drone strike on oil pipelines, claimed by Houthi rebels, forced the Saudis to suspend the flow of oil to the western side of the country.

On Thursday, two more tankers were rocked with explosion and fire near the strait. At least one vessel was set ablaze, and crews were forced to abandon ship.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf of Oman in May. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be completely shut down, in part because of the United States Navy’s presence in the region.CreditMatt Herbst/US Navy, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran’s coastline covers much of the east side of the gulf, and analysts say that, as the United States tightens sanctions on Iran, Tehran would be well placed to harass shipping with small boats, missiles, mines and other weapons. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be shut down, in part because the United States Navy maintains a robust presence in the region.

Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, notes that the Iranians have been mentioned as possible suspects behind the attacks and that they may consider such tactics an appropriate response to the sanctions, which “are viewed from Tehran as economic warfare designed to elicit regime change.”

Analysts say that whoever was behind the recent attacks may be trying to make the point that there is no way around the gulf routes. The reports of attacks in May on four ships occurred in waters off Fujairah, an important port on the Gulf of Oman with facilities designed to bypass the straits.

Read more about the recent attacks
Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved

June 13, 2019

Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption

May 17, 2019

Saudi Arabia does have a safety valve in case the strait became too dangerous: an East-West pipeline that could carry crude to the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. But the drone attack claimed by the Houthi rebels managed to briefly shut that route down.

The other Gulf producers, including Iran, are more dependent on the strait for their exports although Abu Dhabi has an oil pipeline to Fujairah.

A port in the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.CreditKarim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So far, the oil markets have largely taken the attacks in stride, although “the fact that we have had a second series of incidents has definitely heightened concern,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm.

Prices for Brent crude rose about 3.5 percent on Thursday to more than $61 a barrel but remain well below their recent highs of about $72 a barrel in mid-May.

Analysts say that traders are probably betting that the smoldering tensions will not burst into a full-blown conflict. Another factor is that slowing growth in the world economy, weighed down by trade tensions between the United States and China, has weakened demand for oil.

And then there is the American resurgence in production to consider. There is a sense, Ms. Croft said, that the shale oil boom in the United States, where oil production grew an extraordinary 17 percent last year, can compensate for any jolts in world oil supply.

Ms. Croft worries that a major conflict or a cyberattack that shuts off a large portion of Gulf exports could prove a rude awakening. “There is no way the market is insulated from that because of U.S. shale,” she said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz Could Affect Oil Prices

The Strait of Hormuz, sometimes described as the world’s most important oil choke point, is a gateway for almost a third of all crude oil and other petroleum products carried by tanker.

But it is also an increasingly dangerous place because of recent attacks on tankers, raising fears that the route is vulnerable to assaults that could threaten and destabilize oil prices.

After the apparent attack on Thursday on two tankers just outside the strait, tanker operators were quick to voice concerns.

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flag transiting that crucial sea lane,” said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156389934_4c7179ca-0b51-4123-bfa1-f856f46e9f2b-articleLarge How Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz Could Affect Oil Prices Strait of Hormuz Ships and Shipping Pipelines Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

An oil tanker after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman.CreditIranian Students’ News Agency, via, Reuters

The oil-producing countries around the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, are crucial for supplying the world oil market. Most of their exports, around 18 million barrels a day or about 20 percent of world demand, must travel through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait, separating the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran, is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Dozens of ships a day move through the passage.

The bulk of this traffic heads for Asian markets like China, India and Japan. Large volumes of liquefied natural gas, an increasingly important fuel, follow the same route from the tiny emirate of Qatar.

But this area has been rocked by instability in recent weeks. In May, there were reports that four oil vessels were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, heightening concerns over rising tensions between Iran and the United States. A day later, a drone strike on oil pipelines, claimed by Houthi rebels, forced the Saudis to suspend the flow of oil to the western side of the country.

On Thursday, two more tankers were rocked with explosion and fire near the strait. At least one vessel was set ablaze, and crews were forced to abandon ship.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf of Oman in May. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be completely shut down, in part because of the United States Navy’s presence in the region.CreditMatt Herbst/US Navy, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran’s coastline covers much of the east side of the gulf, and analysts say that, as the United States tightens sanctions on Iran, Tehran would be well placed to harass shipping with small boats, missiles, mines and other weapons. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be shut down, in part because the United States Navy maintains a robust presence in the region.

Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, notes that the Iranians have been mentioned as possible suspects behind the attacks and that they may consider such tactics an appropriate response to the sanctions, which “are viewed from Tehran as economic warfare designed to elicit regime change.”

Analysts say that whoever was behind the recent attacks may be trying to make the point that there is no way around the gulf routes. The reports of attacks in May on four ships occurred in waters off Fujairah, an important port on the Gulf of Oman with facilities designed to bypass the straits.

Read more about the recent attacks
Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved

June 13, 2019

Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption

May 17, 2019

Saudi Arabia does have a safety valve in case the strait became too dangerous: an East-West pipeline that could carry crude to the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. But the drone attack claimed by the Houthi rebels managed to briefly shut that route down.

The other Gulf producers, including Iran, are more dependent on the strait for their exports although Abu Dhabi has an oil pipeline to Fujairah.

A port in the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.CreditKarim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So far, the oil markets have largely taken the attacks in stride, although “the fact that we have had a second series of incidents has definitely heightened concern,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm.

Prices for Brent crude rose about 3.5 percent on Thursday to more than $61 a barrel but remain well below their recent highs of about $72 a barrel in mid-May.

Analysts say that traders are probably betting that the smoldering tensions will not burst into a full-blown conflict. Another factor is that slowing growth in the world economy, weighed down by trade tensions between the United States and China, has weakened demand for oil.

And then there is the American resurgence in production to consider. There is a sense, Ms. Croft said, that the shale oil boom in the United States, where oil production grew an extraordinary 17 percent last year, can compensate for any jolts in world oil supply.

Ms. Croft worries that a major conflict or a cyberattack that shuts off a large portion of Gulf exports could prove a rude awakening. “There is no way the market is insulated from that because of U.S. shale,” she said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved

LONDON — Explosions crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday in what the United States called “unprovoked attacks” by Iran, raising alarms about immediate security and potential military conflict in a vital passageway for a third of the world’s petroleum.

Iran called the accusations part of a campaign of American disinformation and “warmongering.”

The explosions forced the crews of both vessels to evacuate and left at least one ablaze, and hours later the causes were still under investigation. Yet the backdrop of steeply rising threats between President Trump and Iranian leaders gave the stricken ships a grave significance even before the facts became clear.

By afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that American intelligence agencies had concluded Tehran was behind the disabling of both ships. He pointed to the weapons used, the expertise and resources required and the similarity to other recent attacks attributed to Iran.

The most compelling evidence to support Mr. Pompeo’s claim was video footage released Thursday night by the United States Central Command. A military spokesman, Capt. Bill Urban, said the video showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling up alongside the Kokuka Courageous, one of the stricken ships, several hours after the initial explosion, and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight.

Also on Thursday night, the United States military released two photographs of the ship’s hull, showing damage and what it said was likely the unexploded mine.

“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security,” Mr. Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

Senior American officials had already blamed Iran for similar attacks last month against four tankers on the same waterway. Iranian officials, who denied any involvement in those attacks, also rejected assertions they were behind the events on Thursday and said Iran had been framed.

“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter. Mr. Pompeo, firing back at his news conference, said Mr. Zarif “may think this is funny, but no one else in the world does.”

Video

Westlake Legal Group 13tanker-sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v2 Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Maritime Accidents and Safety Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

The semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency released video that appears to show an oil tanker on fire in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Recent attacks have escalated tensions in the region.CreditCreditIranian Students’ News Agency, via Associated Press

The Kokuka Courageous was about 20 miles off the Iranian coast when it transmitted an emergency call for help after an initial explosion. When the crew surveyed the damage from the first explosion, they saw a second unexploded mine attached to the hull and evacuated the ship, according to the American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter.

The confrontation also played out at the United Nations in a meeting of the Security Council, where the acting United States ambassador, Jonathan Cohen, told other members that Iran was behind the attacks. Iran’s United Nations mission issued a statement afterward denouncing the “inflammatory remarks” by the American representative, calling them part of “another Iranophobic campaign” of disinformation.

“The U.S. and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots as well as false flag operations in the region,” the Iranian statement said.

Earlier Thursday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, expressed “deep concern” that the new episode might lead to a military escalation.

[Read more about the narrow waterway that is the world’s most important oil route.]

Besides its importance as a petroleum highway, the Persian Gulf also divides bitter and heavily armed rivals, with Iran on one side and the American-backed Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other.

The two sides have fought for years through surrogate forces in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Bahrain. Saudi and Emirati forces have been battling directly for more than four years to roll back a takeover of Yemen by a faction aligned with Iran.

Anxieties over the shared dependence on the vulnerable Persian Gulf shipping lanes have always been central to their animosities, and a commitment to guaranteeing the flow of oil through the same channels is behind the substantial American military presence in the region.

Iranian officials on Thursday suggested the new attacks might be the product of an elaborate conspiracy by their enemies, seemingly pointing to American allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel, which have long urged Washington to take a more muscular approach to Iran.

But many analysts said there was a growing consensus in the West that Iran had been behind last month’s attacks, which took place near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. And they argued that Iran appeared to be seeking to demonstrate it could imperil the world’s oil markets, but without leaving the kind of fingerprints that could trigger American military retaliation.

Source: MarineTraffic

By The New York Times

“As long as there is significant ambiguity the attacks won’t produce a casus belli,” or cause for war, said Jack Watling, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “But Iran is demonstrating its capabilities. It is saying, ‘We can impose a cost on our adversaries in this confrontation, and it will be high.’”

Crude oil prices rose more than 3 percent in response to the crippling of the two ships on Thursday, indirectly boosting Iran’s revenue as an oil producer.

The initial White House response on Thursday was measured. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump had been briefed and that the “U.S. government is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation.”

It was only a few hours later that Mr. Pompeo publicly blamed Iran.

The escalation came against the backdrop of a visit to Iran by the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who was hoping to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington and avert any “accidental clashes.”

Mr. Abe was carrying a note from Mr. Trump to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who rebuffed the overture. “I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future,” Mr. Khamenei said Thursday after meeting with Mr. Abe, according to the ayatollah’s website.

The animosity between Washington and Tehran began rising a year ago after President Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 deal with international powers that limited Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for eased economic sanctions on the country of 80 million people.

Then, laying out sweeping demands for Iran to alter its policies toward the region, Mr. Trump in April ratcheted up the pressure by imposing severe sanctions aimed at cutting off Iran’s exports of oil, the lifeblood of the now-struggling Iranian economy. He also designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a part of the military, as a terrorist group.

In May, citing unspecified warnings of imminent Iranian attacks on American allies or interests, the Trump administration announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf as a deterrent.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter last month. “Never threaten the United States again!”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156386502_2d478457-ac51-416c-a9ce-607250d3ed47-articleLarge Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Maritime Accidents and Safety Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

Michio Yube, top center, the director of Kokuka Sangyo, speaking to the news media in Tokyo on Thursday after one of the company’s ships was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.CreditEugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Iranian leaders, in response, have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a potential Persian Gulf chokepoint. After complying with the nuclear pact for a year even after the American withdrawal, Iran has also raised the possibility of breaching the accord by taking initial steps to expand its supply of enriched uranium.

Some Iranian allies around the region have stepped up their attacks on allies of Washington, fueling fears of a wider conflict. The Houthi faction in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, has launched attacks on Saudi oil pipelines and other targets, and this week a Houthi missile hit the arrivals hall of a Saudi airport, injuring 26 people, according to Saudi news reports.

The attacks in May on the four tankers near Fujairah were relatively minor, causing only limited damage to the hulls. An international investigation presented to the United Nations later concluded that the damage was done by divers deployed from small “fast boats” who had placed limpet mines against the hulls.

On a visit to the United Arab Emirates about two weeks ago, John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said Iran was “almost certainly” responsible. A few days later, Mr. Pompeo called the attacks “efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil.”

The explosions that disabled the tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday were far more severe.

Both took place around dawn, with distress calls at 6:12 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to a statement from the United States Fifth Fleet, which said the U.S.S. Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, was “rendering assistance.”

A Norwegian company that owns one of the ships, the Front Altair, confirmed that it was on fire. The crews of both vessels — about 23 in one and 21 in the other — were evacuated in lifeboats.

The owners and operators of both vessels described the incidents as deliberate attacks.

The Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, was chartered by the CPC Corporation, the Taiwanese oil company, to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, from the Emirati port of Ruwais to Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol, headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Yutaka Katada, the president of the ship’s operator, Kokuka Sangyo, told a news conference that its Filipino crew had abandoned ship in lifeboats after what he described as two attacks three hours apart.

Shipping industry representatives underscored the channel’s critical importance. “Some 30 percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the Straits,” Paolo d’Amico, the chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said in a statement. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How Tanker Attacks on a Skinny Waterway Could Affect Oil Prices

The Strait of Hormuz, sometimes described as the world’s most important oil choke point, is a gateway for almost a third of all crude oil and other petroleum products carried by tanker.

But it is also an increasingly dangerous place because of recent attacks on tankers, raising fears that the route is vulnerable to assaults that could threaten and destabilize oil prices.

After the apparent attack on Thursday on two tankers just outside the strait, tanker operators were quick to voice concerns.

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flag transiting that crucial sea lane,” said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156389934_4c7179ca-0b51-4123-bfa1-f856f46e9f2b-articleLarge How Tanker Attacks on a Skinny Waterway Could Affect Oil Prices Strait of Hormuz Ships and Shipping Pipelines Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

An oil tanker after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman.CreditIranian Students’ News Agency, via, Reuters

The oil-producing countries around the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, are crucial for supplying the world oil market. Most of their exports, around 18 million barrels a day or about 20 percent of world demand, must travel through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait, separating the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran, is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Dozens of ships a day move through the passage.

The bulk of this traffic heads for Asian markets like China, India and Japan. Large volumes of liquefied natural gas, an increasingly important fuel, follow the same route from the tiny emirate of Qatar.

But this area has been rocked by instability in recent weeks. In May, there were reports that four oil vessels were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, heightening concerns over rising tensions between Iran and the United States. A day later, a drone strike on oil pipelines, claimed by Houthi rebels, forced the Saudis to suspend the flow of oil to the western side of the country.

On Thursday, two more tankers were rocked with explosion and fire near the strait. At least one vessel was set ablaze, and crews were forced to abandon ship.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf of Oman in May. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be completely shut down, in part because of the United States Navy’s presence in the region.CreditMatt Herbst/US Navy, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran’s coastline covers much of the east side of the gulf, and analysts say that, as the United States tightens sanctions on Iran, Tehran would be well placed to harass shipping with small boats, missiles, mines and other weapons. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be shut down, in part because the United States Navy maintains a robust presence in the region.

Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, notes that the Iranians have been mentioned as possible suspects behind the attacks and that they may consider such tactics an appropriate response to the sanctions, which “are viewed from Tehran as economic warfare designed to elicit regime change.”

Analysts say that whoever was behind the recent attacks may be trying to make the point that there is no way around the gulf routes. The reports of attacks in May on four ships occurred in waters off Fujairah, an important port on the Gulf of Oman with facilities designed to bypass the straits.

Read more about the recent attacks
In Gulf of Oman, Tankers Are Struck Again, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

June 13, 2019

Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption

May 17, 2019

Saudi Arabia does have a safety valve in case the strait became too dangerous: an East-West pipeline that could carry crude to the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. But the drone attack claimed by the Houthi rebels managed to briefly shut that route down.

The other Gulf producers, including Iran, are more dependent on the strait for their exports although Abu Dhabi has an oil pipeline to Fujairah.

A port in the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.CreditKarim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So far, the oil markets have largely taken the attacks in stride, although “the fact that we have had a second series of incidents has definitely heightened concern,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm.

Prices for Brent crude rose about 3.5 percent on Thursday to more than $61 a barrel but remain well below their recent highs of about $72 a barrel in mid-May.

Analysts say that traders are probably betting that the smoldering tensions will not burst into a full-blown conflict. Another factor is that slowing growth in the world economy, weighed down by trade tensions between the United States and China, has weakened demand for oil.

And then there is the American resurgence in production to consider. There is a sense, Ms. Croft said, that the shale oil boom in the United States, where oil production grew an extraordinary 17 percent last year, can compensate for any jolts in world oil supply.

Ms. Croft worries that a major conflict or a cyberattack that shuts off a large portion of Gulf exports could prove a rude awakening. “There is no way the market is insulated from that because of U.S. shale,” she said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tanker Attacks Are Threatening the World’s Most Important Oil Route

The Strait of Hormuz, sometimes described as the world’s most important oil choke point, is a gateway for almost a third of all crude oil and other petroleum products carried by tanker.

But it is also an increasingly dangerous place because of recent attacks on tankers, raising fears that the route is vulnerable to assaults that could threaten and destabilize oil prices.

After the apparent attack on Thursday on two tankers just outside the strait, tanker operators were quick to voice concerns.

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flag transiting that crucial sea lane,” said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156389934_4c7179ca-0b51-4123-bfa1-f856f46e9f2b-articleLarge Tanker Attacks Are Threatening the World’s Most Important Oil Route Strait of Hormuz Ships and Shipping Pipelines Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

An oil tanker after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman.CreditIranian Students’ News Agency, via, Reuters

The oil-producing countries around the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, are crucial for supplying the world oil market. Most of their exports, around 18 million barrels a day or about 20 percent of world demand, must travel through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait, separating the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iran, is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Hundreds of ships a day move through the passage.

The bulk of this traffic heads for Asian markets like China, India and Japan. Large volumes of liquefied natural gas, an increasingly important fuel, follow the same route from the tiny emirate of Qatar.

But this area has been rocked by instability in recent weeks. In May, there were reports that four oil vessels were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, heightening concerns over rising tensions between Iran and the United States. A day later, a drone strike on oil pipelines, claimed by Houthi rebels, forced the Saudis to suspend the flow of oil to the western side of the country.

On Thursday, two more tankers were rocked with explosion and fire near the strait. At least one vessel was set ablaze, and crews were forced to abandon ship.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf of Oman in May. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be completely shut down, in part because of the United States Navy’s presence in the region.CreditMatt Herbst/US Navy, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran’s coastline covers much of the east side of the gulf, and analysts say that, as the United States tightens sanctions on Iran, Tehran would be well placed to harass shipping with small boats, missiles, mines and other weapons. Experts doubt that the Strait of Hormuz could be shut down, in part because the United States Navy maintains a robust presence in the region.

Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, notes that the Iranians have been mentioned as possible suspects behind the attacks and that they may consider such tactics an appropriate response to the sanctions, which “are viewed from Tehran as economic warfare designed to elicit regime change.”

Analysts say that whoever was behind the recent attacks may be trying to make the point that there is no way around the gulf routes. The reports of attacks in May on four ships occurred in waters off Fujairah, an important port on the Gulf of Oman with facilities designed to bypass the straits.

Read more about the recent attacks
In Gulf of Oman, Tankers Are Struck Again, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

June 13, 2019

Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption

May 17, 2019

Saudi Arabia does have a safety valve in case the strait became too dangerous: an East-West pipeline that could carry crude to the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea coast. But the drone attack claimed by the Houthi rebels managed to briefly shut that route down.

The other Gulf producers, including Iran, are more dependent on the strait for their exports although Abu Dhabi has an oil pipeline to Fujairah.

A port in the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.CreditKarim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So far, the oil markets have largely taken the attacks in stride, although “the fact that we have had a second series of incidents has definitely heightened concern,” said Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm.

Prices for Brent crude rose about 3.5 percent on Thursday to more than $61 a barrel but remain well below their recent highs of about $72 a barrel in mid-May.

Analysts say that traders are probably betting that the smoldering tensions will not burst into a full-blown conflict. Another factor is that slowing growth in the world economy, weighed down by trade tensions between the United States and China, has weakened demand for oil.

And then there is the American resurgence in production to consider. There is a sense, Ms. Croft said, that the shale oil boom in the United States, where oil production grew an extraordinary 17 percent last year, can compensate for any jolts in world oil supply.

Ms. Croft worries that a major conflict or a cyberattack that shuts off a large portion of Gulf exports could prove a rude awakening. “There is no way the market is insulated from that because of U.S. shale,” she said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Gulf of Oman, Tankers Are Struck Again, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

LONDON — Apparent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday forced their crews to abandon ship and left one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area, raising alarms about the security of a vital passageway for much of the world’s petroleum.

The early morning incidents, which two shipping companies involved and the White House described as attacks, elevated tensions in a region already unsettled by the escalating conflict between the United States and some of its allies, and Iran.

Frictions have become so intense that other nations have pleaded with all sides to stay calm rather than provoke an all-out war. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who was visiting Iran and trying to bridge the gap between Iran and the United States, warned of the risk of stumbling into military conflict.

Last month, Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, said, “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the House press secretary, said Thursday: “The president has been briefed on the attack on ships in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. government is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation.”

It was not immediately clear how the most recent incidents unfolded or who was involved, just as the circumstances of last month’s attacks remain murky. The two ships that were struck on Thursday appeared to have been more seriously damaged than those hit in May.

Iranian officials have denied any involvement in attacks on tankers. But in late May, John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, that Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for the earlier attacks, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed, saying that they were “efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil.”

Officials of other countries have been more cautious about publicly assigning blame. The United Arab Emirates described the attacks as state-sponsored, but did not specify a state.

Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., both American allies, have long been at odds with Iran, and are backing opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen. But the sharpest recent changes have been in the United States-Iran relationship.

Source: MarineTraffic

By The New York Times

Mr. Trump has repudiated the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, and he recently moved to cut off Iran’s remaining oil exports and sent additional military forces to the region. In response, Iran recently threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the crucial access to the Persian Gulf, and has said it may reduce its compliance with parts of the nuclear pact.

The Houthi faction in Yemen, backed by Iran, has launched attacks recently on targets in Saudi Arabia, including oil pipelines, fueling fears of a wider conflict.

Much of the world’s oil and gas come from the Persian Gulf area, bordered by energy powerhouses like Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. Some of it leaves the region through pipelines, but a significant portion is carried by ships that must pass through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Oil prices rose more than 3 percent on world markets in the hours after the attacks on Thursday.

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flat transiting that crucial sea lane every day,” Paolo d’Amico, the chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said in a statement. “We need to remember that some 30 percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the Straits. If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

Mr. Abe met Wednesday with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, and Thursday with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. He delivered a note from Mr. Trump to Mr. Khamenei, the Iranian state media said, but the Ayatollah rebuffed the overture and said he could not expect honest negotiation from the American administration.

“I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future,” Mr. Khamenei said, according to the Iranian media.

Iranian officials suggested that the damage to the tankers was meant to prevent friendly dialogue and provoke aggression. “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.

A government spokesman, Ali Rabiei, warned other nations not to be deceived by those who benefit from instability, Iran’s Labour News Agency reported.

Among American military and intelligence officials in the Persian Gulf region, suspicion immediately fell on possible Iranian complicity.

American analysts were poring over imagery as well as signals intercepts on Thursday to help determine how the attack happened and who was responsible, a senior American official said. Based on the extent of the damage to the tankers, early indications suggested that either mines or torpedoes were used, said the senior official, who acknowledged that the investigation was still in its very early stages.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156386502_2d478457-ac51-416c-a9ce-607250d3ed47-articleLarge In Gulf of Oman, Tankers Are Struck Again, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Maritime Accidents and Safety Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

Michio Yube, top center, the director of Kokuka Sangyo, speaking to the news media in Tokyo on Thursday after one of the company’s ships was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.CreditEugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Last week, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East that he believed the Iranians or their proxies could carry out an attack at any moment.

“I think the threat is imminent,” General McKenzie told NBC News, without offering specific evidence or other details.

One of the ships disabled on Thursday, the Front Altair, owned by the Norwegian shipping company Frontline, was burning and its crew had evacuated the vessel, according to a shipping industry official who was not authorized to speak for the record. CPC Corporation, the Taiwan oil company that had chartered the ship to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, confirmed that it had been attacked, and a company official told Reuters that a torpedo was suspected.

The Norwegian newspaper VG quoted a Frontline spokesman as saying that its ship was on fire and that all 23 crew members had been rescued. Maritime tracking websites say the Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, had left the Emirati port of Ruwais, headed to Kaohsiung, in Taiwan.

The other tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous, was carrying methanol, and the Iranian state news media reported that it, too, was on fire. It was reportedly headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Both the ship’s owner and its operator said that all 21 crew members had abandoned ship and were later rescued by a nearby vessel.

“We received a report that our ship was attacked,” Yutaka Katada, the president of the ship’s operator, Kokuka Sangyo, said at a news conference. The crew, all Filipinos, “kept trying to avoid the attacks, but again received an attack three hours later. So crew members left the ship by lifeboats.”

The tanker’s owner, Bernhard Shulte, said in a statement that it had sustained damage to the hull on the starboard side and that one crew member had been slightly injured. The ship “ is not in any danger of sinking,” the company said. “The cargo of methanol is intact.”

Iran’s state news media said the two tankers had been hit by explosions, and confirmed the rescue of 44 mariners. The news channel IRINN said a rescue team from the southern Iranian province of Horozgan had picked up the crew of the ship carrying the Panamanian flag.

Japan’s Trade Ministry said both ships were carrying “Japan-related cargo.”

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m.”

The fleet said the U.S.S. Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, was “rendering assistance.”

An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 50 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.

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Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption

Updated June 13, 2019: On Thursday, two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, raising fears of wider conflict.

Across the Arabian peninsula, thousands of miles of pipes run above and below the desert in one of the world’s most sophisticated production lines for pumping oil from the ground and distributing it around the world. This vast system of oil fields, refineries and ports has largely run like clockwork despite political turbulence across the region.

Then a drone strike claimed by Houthi rebels on May 14 forced the Saudis to temporarily halt the flow of a crucial oil artery to the western side of the country. The assault came a day after mysterious incidents damaged two Saudi tankers and two other ships in a key port in the United Arab Emirates.

These were perhaps the most serious attacks on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure since Al Qaeda militants were thwarted trying to blow up a key Saudi facility at Abqaiq in 2006.

While American officials are still trying to determine whether Iran was behind these incidents, the question for the oil market is how well the Saudi and Persian Gulf infrastructure is protected and whether, with tensions building in the region, it could survive a conflict with Iran.

Analysts and executives of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, say the kingdom has spent heavily to protect the industry that is its lifeblood. Key Saudi installations are tightly guarded and protected by missile batteries and other weaponry.

“Security systems were bulked up in the 2000s amid the Al Qaeda threat, including the 2006 attack on the Abqaiq facility,” said Ben Cahill, manager for research and advisory at Energy Intelligence, a research firm. “The country’s oil fields, refineries and pipelines are blanketed by surveillance and remote sensing.”

In light of that security effort, Mr. Cahill and other analysts concede that it was eye-opening, even shocking, that a drone apparently launched from as far as 500 miles away in Yemen, managed to cross deep into Saudi Arabia and cause damage.

It was also worrisome and even embarrassing that someone managed to damage tankers in waters off Fujairah, a vital port in the United Arab Emirates where ships take on fuel and provisions on their way in and out of the Gulf.

Despite the security spending of the last decade, rapid changes in technology may mean that the Saudi infrastructure is more exposed than previously thought, analysts say. United Nations experts have estimated, for instance, that drones used by the Houthis have a range of nearly 1,000 miles, allowing them to reach well into Saudi Arabia.

“The simple fact that they managed to reach tankers and a pipeline” is meaningful, said Riccardo Fabiani, a geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm. “It means they could strike at the heart of Saudi interests if they wanted to.”

Iran is well-placed for inflicting pain in the no-war-no-peace existence in the region. Analysts say it is proficient at using relatively cheap unconventional weapons like drones and speedboats, and at covering its tracks. It can also make use of proxies including the Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the pipeline attack.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_139208199_2ae968de-9f7b-4222-b34f-645b592a4068-articleLarge Saudi Oil Infrastructure at Risk as Small Attacks Raise Potential for Big Disruption United Arab Emirates Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabia Pipelines Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Middle East Iran Houthis Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) Drones (Pilotless Planes) Defense and Military Forces Cyberwarfare and Defense Al Qaeda

Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia.CreditAhmed Jadallah/Reuters

Analysts say that drones could prove to be a nuisance for producers like the Saudis. It would be difficult if not impossible to protect an entire pipeline system, and even concentrating air defense units around key points like pumping stations, which were hit in the May 14 drone strikes, would mean taking these defenses from somewhere else.

Drones may also be able to evade the kingdom’s main air defenses, which are intended to repel missiles and aircraft rather than smaller objects.

Jeremy Binnie, a Middle East and Africa defense specialist at Jane’s Defense Weekly, said that satellite imagery showed that the key Saudi export terminal at Ras Tanura was guarded by batteries of sophisticated United States-made Hawk surface-to-air missiles. But these weapons “might not be able to engage the UAVs (drones) that Iran has developed with small radar cross sections,” he said.

Another concern is that Iran, which is regarded as skilled in digital hacking, could use cyber warfare to damage the petroleum infrastructure of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.

At Saudi Aramco, activities like drilling wells, pumping oil to the surface, and loading the fuel on tankers can all be monitored and managed remotely. Such sophistication, though, may also create openings for attack.

“A lot of those movements are run out of a central command center at Saudi Aramco headquarters,” said Phillip Cornell, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research institution, who previously worked at Aramco as a senior corporate planning adviser.

Mr. Cornell said that Aramco officials suspected that Iran was responsible for a cyber attack earlier in this decade and that “there has been a lot of investment to reinforce those cyber security defenses.”

However, analysts say the cyber vulnerabilities remain a major worry. “I think cyber is the really underappreciated risk,” said Helima Croft, an oil analyst at RBC Capital markets, an investment bank.

Cyber attacks, for instance, could play a surprisingly large role in the event of conflict, gumming up the oil system or even causing damage.

“Iran has significant cyber capabilities and in the event of a significant U.S. military action against Iran, one could expect that they might deploy these capabilities against the U.S. and its allies,” said John MacWilliams, who was an associate deputy secretary and chief risk officer in the Department of Energy in the Obama administration.

Mr. MacWilliams said the Pentagon monitored Iran’s cyber skills and probably had plans to counter them. “It is one more important reason that containing military action from spreading quickly to a larger conflict may prove difficult,” he said.

The evidence, so far, is that the market and the oil industry can take some bumps in stride. Oil prices ticked up slightly in the week of the two attacks, to $72 a barrel for Brent crude, but still remained below the high of nearly $75 a barrel in late April.

“What the market thinks is that although these incidents are important and noteworthy, they have so far not had any impact on actual production or exports,” said Neil Atkinson, head of the oil industry and markets division of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based multinational group.

Analysts also say that oil installations are resilient, with most damage easily and quickly repaired. The Saudis have been through a series of wars in the Gulf and have rejiggered their installations with potential threats in mind. “They don’t have a prayer,” said Sadad I. Husseini, a former executive vice president of Aramco, speaking of the possibility of serious disruptions of the kingdom’s oil exports.

In the event of a major conflict, some analysts figure that the large presence of United States military forces in the area would mean that Iran would have only limited success if it tried to stop oil flows from the Gulf.

“Iran is still a very limited military power if things escalate,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a Gulf defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr. Cordesman added that the consequences of a conflict in the region “would be higher prices and limited flows, not a prolonged closing of the Gulf.”

With territory along most of the eastern side of the Gulf, including the vital Strait of Hormuz, Iran is well positioned to cause trouble. Mr. Binnie said that in a war situation Iran could fire anti-ship missiles with radars that fasten onto large targets. “Tankers would be extremely vulnerable in that scenario,” he said.

Iranian personnel could also harass commercial and military ships with small boats equipped with missiles or torpedoes, and by dropping mines in the Strait. Nearly a fifth of the world’s crude oil travels the sea lanes through that gauntlet, which at its narrowest point is just 21 miles wide.

Wars are unpredictable, the analysts said, and the outcome of a conflict between Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers would carry substantial risks.

Washington’s sanctions on Iran have already more than halved the country’s oil sales. As they continue to fall, Tehran may be tempted to take greater risks.

“The Trump administration really needs to understand what it is doing by clamping down on Iran,” said Jim Krane, an energy fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “If Iran does not have any exports, it has a lot less to lose.”

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Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

Westlake Legal Group 13tanker-facebookJumbo Tankers Attacked Again in Gulf of Oman, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Maritime Accidents and Safety Iran Gulf of Oman Fujairah (United Arab Emirates)

LONDON — Two oil tankers came under attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, forcing their crews to abandon ship and setting at least one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil products.

The attacks escalated tensions in an already tense region, where Iran has long been at odds with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and they are backing opposite sides in the civil war in Yemen. Relations between the United States — allied with the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia — and Iran have also worsened.

Frictions have become so intense that other nations have pleaded with all sides to stay calm rather than provoke an all-out war. Last month, Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, said, “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”

It was not immediately clear how the most recent attacks were carried out or by whom, just as the circumstances of last month’s attacks remain murky. The two ships that were struck on Thursday appeared to have been more seriously damaged than those hit in May.

On a visit to the U.A.E. about two weeks ago, John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said without disclosing any evidence that Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for the attacks in May. “Who else would you think is doing it?”

But other American officials and Iran’s regional adversaries have been more cautious about assigning blame. Emirati officials described the attacks as state-sponsored, but did not specify a state.

Mr. Trump has repudiated the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and has imposed new sanctions. In response, Iran recently threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the crucial access to the Persian Gulf, and has said it may reduce its compliance with parts of the nuclear pact.

Much of the world’s oil and gas come from the Persian Gulf area, bordered by energy powerhouses like Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. Some leaves the region through pipelines, but a significant portion is carried by ships that must pass through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

Source: MarineTraffic

By The New York Times

“We have people of every nationality and vessels of every flat transiting that crucial sea lane every day,” Paolo d’Amico, chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said in a statement. “We need to remember that some 30 percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the Straits. If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

One of the ships struck on Thursday, the Front Altair, owned by the Norwegian shipping company Frontline, was burning and its crew had evacuated the vessel, according to a shipping industry official who was not authorized to speak for the record. CPC Corporation, the Taiwan oil company that had chartered the ship to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, confirmed that it had been attacked.

The Norwegian newspaper VG quoted a Frontline spokesman as saying that its ship was on fire, and that all 23 crew members had been rescued. Maritime tracking websites say the Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, had left the Emirati port of Ruwais, headed to Kaohsiung, in Taiwan.

The other tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous, operated by the Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo, was carrying methanol, and Iranian state media reported that it too was on fire. It was reportedly headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. The ship’s owner, Bernhard Shulte GmbH & Co KG, said in a statement that all 21 crew members had abandoned ship after damage to the hull on the starboard side, and were quickly rescued from a lifeboat by a nearby vessel.

“One crewman from the Kokuka Courageous was slightly injured in the incident and is receiving first aid,” the statement said. “The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact.”

Iran’s state media confirmed the attacks on the two tankers and the rescue of 44 mariners. The news channel IRINN said a rescue team from the southern Iranian province of Horozgan had picked up the crew of the ship carrying the Panamanian flag.

Japan’s Trade Ministry said both ships were carrying “Japan-related cargo.” The attack came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting Iran.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman,” the United States Fifth Fleet said in a brief statement. “U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7 a.m.”

The fleet said the U.S.S. Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, was “rendering assistance.”

An arm of the British Navy, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, reported that “U.K. and its partners are currently investigating” an incident in the gulf, about 40 miles east of the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, but offered no details.

Oil prices spiked early Thursday on the news.

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