Oil prices have risen following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, on 13 June.
The Norwegian Front Altair and Japanese Kokua Courageous tankers were damaged by blasts in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s busiest oil routes and the only sea passage through the Persian Gulf.
The 21 crew members on the Kokua Courageous and the 23 crew members on the Front Altair have been rescued from the vessels.
Oil tankers targeted in the Sea of Oman close to Iran. Iranian officials call the attack “suspicious”.pic.twitter.com/ryc9yfThyi
— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) June 13, 2019
Oil prices increased by around 4% after the incident on Thursday, with Brent crude futures rising from $59.97 to $62.64 and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rising from $51.14 to $53.45.
US officials attributed the attacks to Iran, with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo claiming “intelligence, the weapons used, [and] the level of expertise needed to execute the operation” suggested to the US that the Iranian military was responsible.
On Thursday 13 June, the US military released footage of what it claimed was an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boat and crew removing an unexploded limpet mine.
Saudi Arabian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir agreed with Pompeo’s assessment, telling CNN: “We have no reason to disagree with the secretary of state. We agree with him. Iran has a history of doing this.”
Iran denies involvement in the attacks, with Iranian foreign minister describing the attacks as “suspicious”.
“Iran categorically rejects the US unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents, and condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said in a statement released today.
In a televised statement, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said: “Security is of high importance to Iran in the sensitive region of the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East, in Asia and in the whole world. We have always tried to secure peace and stability in the region.”
Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.
Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019
Tensions between the US and Iran had previously been increased due to the US’ imposition of sanctions on Irans’s oil imports in November 2018 over the country’s nuclear programme. These sanctions have caused global oil prices to rise, and have deterred investment in Iran’s oil and gas sector from overseas companies.
These attacks come after a number of attacks on tankers in May 2019, with two Saudi Arabian tankers targeted near the UAE coast and four UAE-owned commercial vessels attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Pompeo also attributed these attacks to Iran, but official investigations did not determine who was responsible.