Oil tanker attack sets energy markets on edge

Oil tanker attack sets energy markets on edge

Oil tanker attack sets energy markets on edge

An apparent attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday left dozens of sailors stranded off the coast of Iran and ratcheted up already heightened tensions in the region.

Pompeo said at a news conference today in Washington that the attacks on the ships are part of a "campaign" of "escalating tension" by Iran and a threat to global peace and security.

Mike Pompeo said today that based on intelligence, type of weapons used and level of expertise needed, that Iran is responsible for the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

"Iran should meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not with terror, bloodshed and extortion", he said.

One of the ships attacked was Japanese-owned, while the other sails under a Norwegian flag. The official, who declined to provide additional details or evidence, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss initial findings that have not been made public. "Genuineness is very rare among US officials", Khamenei added in a series of tweets Thursday.

The Front Altair loaded its cargo from Ruwais in the UAE, according to trade sources and shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon.

"We need to remember that some 30% of the world's (seaborne) crude oil passes through the straits".

Thursday's attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies.

Pompeo noted that Abe had asked Iran to enter into talks with Washington but Tehran "rejected" the overture.

Donald Trump, who has made economic and military pressure against Iran a cornerstone of his foreign policy, was being briefed Thursday about the tanker attack.

The official said American authorities are expected to recover sufficient debris from the attacks to trace their source and that any U.S. retaliation would depend on the evidence and on other Gulf countries. "Facts must be established and responsibilities clarified", said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

His comments will be read as reference to Iran, which Arab countries accuse of attempting to destabilize the region, primarily though its proxy forces in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

US analysts were poring over imagery as well as signals intercepts Thursday to help determine how the attack happened and who was responsible, a senior USA official said.

Pressure has been mounting on Tehran from crippling economic sanctions, which have greatly reduced its oil exports, and an increased United States military presence in the region.

About 20 per cent of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

"It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks", Mr Pompeo told reporters.

"Tension across the Middle East is high - and the attacks on two tankers have further exacerbated the situation, even though there does not appear to have been any damage to the cargos", John Hall, chairman of British-based consultancy Alfa Energy, said.

Observers believe the attacks on shipping could be Iran attempting to reassert its position.

"Any miscalculation or misunderstanding risks a spiral toward more direct confrontation", she told AFP. It is still deniable and denied.

Last month, the US accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East and set B-52 bombers in what the Trump administration called an act of deterrence amid heightened threats from Iran and its proxies to USA personnel in Iraq, Syria, and on the high seas.

Other global responses offered strong condemnation but urged caution on attributing blame.

In particular, Khamenei said the US has shown itself not to be trustworthy or genuine in its peace talks offer by continuing to ramp up economic sanctions on his government, including sanctioning Iran's petrochemical industry last Friday.

"We have no doubt about your good will and seriousness, but".

How the United States and Iranian governments react to the event will be key.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the "security incidents" and warned the world can not afford a major confrontation in the Gulf, while the European Union called for "maximum restraint".

"I strongly condemn any attack against civilian vessels".

In May, the USA rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the region in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Twenty-one mariners from one of the ships were taken aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer after having abandoned ship, while 23 mariners from the other vessel were reportedly taken to Iran.

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.

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