A rumor of war: Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman (upd)

The facts as we know them so far:
Panama-listed tanker Kokuka Courageous which was carrying a cargo of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore was breached the hull above the water line. There was a fire in the engine room.

The Aframax-class tanker loaded with 75,000 tonnes of naphtha was on fire, said the Norwegian owner of the Front Altair. Front Altair was traveling from Ruwais, United Arab Emirates, to Taiwan, according to trade sources.

Oil prices surged by 4% on the news.

Japan’s Trade Ministry said the two vessels had “Japan-related cargo”

Two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews were evacuated, shipping firms and industry sources said on Thursday, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck.

The Bahrain-based U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet said its were assisting the tankers after receiving distress calls following “reported attacks”. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, said it was investigating.

Details of the incident were not immediately clear, but one operator said it suspected its ship had been hit by a torpedo. Another shipping firm said its vessel was on fire in the Gulf of Oman.

Oil prices surged by 4% after the report that has stoked tensions in the region that have already been heightened by attacks last month on Gulf oil assets amid a dispute between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers.

source: Reuters