Gulf tanker attack leads to spike in oil prices

Gulf tanker attack leads to spike in oil prices
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Oil prices spiked Thursday morning amid reports of explosions on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman close to the Iranian coastline, according to CNBC.

Prices spiked as much as 4 percent in response to the incident, according to the network, with Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, up $2.02, or 3.4 percent, to $61.99 a barrel, around 9 a.m. EST.

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude, meanwhile, increased $1.66, or 3.3 percent, to $52.80, according to CNBC.

The tankers, the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, reportedly went up in flames just before 6 a.m. local time.

The Washington Post reported that both ships' crews were evacuated successfully from their vessels.

An attack on the tankers had not been confirmed, but a representative for BSM Ship Management, the Kokuka’s manager, said in a statement that 21 crew members had abandoned ship and been rescued from a lifeboat after the fire.

“The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact,” the spokesman said.

Kokuka Sangyo President Yutaka Katada told press the ship was hit twice in three hours before its crew evacuated, according to CNBC.

The incident occurred while Iran is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a two-day diplomatic visit amid rising tensions between Iran and the U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif noted the timing of the possible attacks Thursday morning on Twitter, saying, “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”

 

The Kokuka is about 70 nautical miles from the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah, the location of several alleged sabotage attacks on tankers in mid-May. U.S. officials have blamed the incidents on Iran, but the nation has denied any involvement, according to CNBC.