Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia called for swift action to secure Gulf energy supplies, after the United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in a vital oil shipping route that have raised fears of broader confrontation in the region.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was reported as saying that“there must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat” to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence after the attacks in the Gulf area.
Thursday’s tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman, after similar blasts in May that crippled four vessels, happened south of the Strait of Hormuz, a major transit route for oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, and other Gulf producers.
Oil prices have climbed 3.4% since Thursday’s attacks. Ship insurers said insurance costs for ships sailing through the Middle East have jumped by at least 10%.
Whilst Iran warned that it could block the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel of water separating Iran and Oman through which a fifth of the oil consumed globally passed, American President Donald Trump said such a move would not last long.
Tehran and Washington have both said they have no interest in a war. But this has done little to assuage concerns that the arch foes could stumble into conflict.