After Drone Attack, Saudi Arabia Stops Pumping At Major Oil Pipeline

Saudi Says Two of Its Oil Tankers ‘Sabotaged,’ Iran Seeks Clarification

Oil prices rise after Middle East tanker attacks

The group's Al-Masirah TV channel quoted a military source as saying that seven drones attacked vital Saudi installations.

Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia attends a news conference after a meeting of the OPEC, and non OPEC members in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.

Also sustaining the up move in crude prices, geopolitical tensions remain on the rise in the Persian Gulf after recent drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities and Sunday's sabotage of kingdom's tankers.

The stations are serving a major East-West oil pipeline that transports crude from the oilfields in the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu on the west coast.

Nearly all the oil exports of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran itself, at least 15 million barrels per day, are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz.

"We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then come up with reasonable responses short of war", U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid said in Riyadh on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Last week, the U.S. said that it was sending an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a bomber task force and an anti-missile system to the region after it alleged intelligence showed Iran posed a threat to its troops.

"In an environment of rising regional tensions, limited Iranian operations against the UAE and Saudi Arabia might be created to dissuade Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and signal that war with Iran will not be limited to Iranian soil", said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

Saudi Arabia said armed drones hit two oil pumping stations in the kingdom on Tuesday in what it called a "cowardly" act of terrorism. A boom surrounds the Emirati oil tanker, suggesting officials worry about an oil leak from the vessel. According to the Financial Times, Iran-backed Houthi Rebels, against whom Riyadh has waged war since 2015, claimed responsibility. A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen for four years.

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Iranian officials have denied any involvement in the attacks and have blamed Israel for trying to inflame military tensions between Iran and the United States.

The Associated Press said that Emirati officials had declined a request for its journalists to be permitted to approach the vessels up close by ship and inspect the damage.

Trump says "bad problem" may await Iran as the USA bulks up its military presence in the Persian Gulf; State Department correspondent Rich Edson reports.

It is not known whether the two incidents are linked.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared information on what he called escalating threats from Iran during meetings with European Union counterparts and the head of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels on Monday, the US special representative for Iran Brian Hook said. "A mine? We still don't know", she said.

Fujairah also is about 140 kilometres south of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.

Asked at the White House about the incident, President Donald Trump responded: "We'll see what happens with Iran".

Iran has been accused by the USA and the United Nations of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, which Tehran denies.

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