By Arab News
Saudi Arabia called for a swift response to the threat to energy supplies, 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 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.
Iran on Saturday summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after London also blamed it for the attacks, the Students News Agency ISNA reported.
“During the meeting with Iran’s foreign ministry official, Iran strongly condemned the unfounded allegations and criticised Britain’s unacceptable stance regarding the attacks in the Gulf of Oman,” it said.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement Friday blaming Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the attacks, saying no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible.
Meanwhile, crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked landed Saturday in Dubai after two days in Iran.
Associated Press journalists saw the crew of the Front Altair after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed in the UAE.
Earlier, the oil tanker left Iran’s territorial waters and was under tow to the UAE, shipping officials said Saturday.
The Norwegian company which owns the ship said specialists would board the vessel on Saturday to assess the damage.
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 the vessel was heading to the UAE.
“We still don’t know if the tanker goes to Khor Fakkan or Fujairah as they are very close,” said a spokesman.
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,” Al-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.
Al-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.