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UPDATE – Oil tanker attack in Saudi Arabia considered as a ‘terrorism’ act

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 Saudi Arabia said on Monday that a fuel transport ship anchored at a Jeddah terminal was hit by an explosive-laden boat in what it called a terrorist attack, after shipping firm Hafnia said one of its tankers was struck by an “external source”.

“BW Rhine has been hit from an external source whilst discharging at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at approximately 00:40 local time on 14 December 2020, causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard,” Hafnia said in a statement on its website.

The ship’s crew put out the fire and no-one was injured, the company said, adding that parts of the ship’s hull had been damaged.

A Saudi energy ministry spokesman, in a statement carried on state media, did not mention the name of the vessel or identify who was behind the attack.

Al Arabiya TV cited the captain of the BW Rhine as saying that small boats had been spotted ahead of the explosion, and that one of the vessel’s tanks was damaged in the blast.

Earlier the reports said that “It is possible that some oil has escaped from the vessel, but this has not been confirmed and instrumentation currently indicates that oil levels on board are at the same level as before the incident,” Hafnia said.

The BW Rhine, owned and operated by Hafnia, is a Singapore-flagged tanker with capacity to carry 60,000-80,000 tonnes of light and middle distillate oil products, according to Hafnia and shipping data on Refinitiv.

The tanker loaded about 60,000 tonnes of gasoline from Yanbu port on Dec. 6, the data showed. It is currently 84% full, according to its draft.

The Saudi energy ministry spokesman said the attack resulted in a small fire which emergency units extinguished, but that there was no damage to unloading facilities nor any effect on supplies.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said on its website that Jeddah port had reopened after closing following the incident.

“These acts of terrorism and vandalism, directed against vital installations, go beyond the Kingdom and its vital facilities, to the security and stability of energy supplies to the world and the global economy,” the ministry spokesman said.

Photo An undated handout photo made available by Hafnia shows the oil tanker BW Rhine at an undisclosed location, issued 14 December 2020.

EPA-EFE/HAFNIA

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