Saudi energy minister calls for decisive response to energy supply threats

Saudi energy minister calls for decisive response to energy supply threats

DUBAI (Rahnuma):  Saudi Arabia said on Saturday there must be a quick response to the threat to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence, the energy ministry said, two days after attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

“There must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat of energy supply, market stability and consumer confidence, which are posed by recent terrorist acts in both the Arabian Sea and the Arabian Gulf, against the major global energy supply chains,Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said at a G20 meeting in Japan.

His comments came as the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said the Gulf of Oman attacks and an attack last month on four tankers off the Emirates’ coast said the attacks were carried out by a state-actor using sophisticated technology.

GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani added to the chorus of international condemnation on Saturday, describing the attacks as a dangerous escalation and violation of international laws.

He also said that it was a direct threat to maritime safety and the world’s energy supply. He said that “this attack is a terrorist act that calls for the international community to respond quickly and decisively to protect international shipping lines in this vital region of the world.”

US President Donald Trump said the attack had Iran “written all over it” and Saudi Arabia said it agreed with Washington’s initial assessment that Tehran was responsible. On Friday, the US military released video footage it said suggested that Iran wanted to hide evidence that it was behind the attacks. Iran has repeatedly threatened to disrupt the Strait of Hormuz – the narrow shipping lane into the Arabian Gulf through which one fifth of the world’s oil is transported.

The Norwegian-owned Front Altair oil tanker left Iran’s territorial waters Saturday and was under tow to the UAE two days after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, shipping officials said Saturday.

The tanker was one of two vessels that were rocked by explosions as they passed through Gulf of Oman waters on Thursday.

The Front Altair is “heading toward the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area in the United Arab Emirates”, head of ports of Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan told the semi-official news agency ISNA.

The tanker “has left Iran’s territorial waters,” he said, adding that it was being towed and sprayed with water to cool the hull.

The Norwegian company which owns the ship confirmed it had left Iranian waters and said specialists would board the vessel on Saturday to assess the damage.

“The 23 crew members of the ‘Front Altair’ remain safe and well, with plans being made for their repatriation soonest,” Frontline Management said.

The crew, who were rescued by Iran after the vessel caught fire and transferred to Bandar Abbas, were to fly to Dubai on Saturday night, ISNA said.

The other tanker that was attacked, the Kokuka Courageous, was heading to port Saturday, its owners said.

The Japanese tanker’s Tokyo-based operator Kokuka confirmed Saturday the vessel was heading to port in the United Arab Emirates.

“We still don’t know if the tanker goes to Khor Fakkan or Fujairah as they are very close,” said a spokesman, referring to two Emirati ports on the Gulf of Oman.

Maritime experts would then seek to transfer its highly flammable cargo to shore, according to an unnamed official quoted by Japanese state media.

Earlier, Al-Falih said that he hopes oil producers will be able to balance the oil market before next year.
“We hope that we will balance the market before next year. We are working on it,” Falih told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers in Karuizawa, Japan, when asked about the current oil market situation.

Falih said earlier this month that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was close to agreeing to extend a pact on cutting oil supplies beyond June, although more talks were still needed with non-OPEC countries that were part of the production deal.

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