Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
An explosion shook the Singapore flag of the Saudi port city of Jeddah on Monday, the ship’s owner said, the latest in a series of attacks on energy infrastructure in the kingdom.
No group has so far been responsible for the blast on the oil tanker BW Rhine, but it is happening as Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in neighboring Yemen intensify cross-border attacks on Saudi targets in retaliation for a five-year military campaign led by Riyadh.
“BW Rhine was hit by an outside source during a leak at Jeddah … causing an explosion and subsequent fire on board,” its owner, Singapore shipping company Hafnia, said in a statement.
“The crews extinguished the fire with the help of the coastal fire brigades and tugs, and all 22 sailors were responsible for no injuries,” it added.
Saudi authorities did not immediately confirm the explosion of Jeddah, a key port and distribution center of the Red Sea for oil giant Saudi Aramco.
Hafnia reported “hull damage” in the explosion, which occurred only after midnight on Monday, and did not rule out the possibility of oil spills.
“It is possible that some oil escaped from the ship, but this has not been confirmed and instrumentation currently indicates that oil levels on board are level before the incident,” Hafnia said.
Dryad Global, a London-based maritime intelligence firm, also reported the latest explosion, saying it struck a ship while “carrying out operations inside the main oil tanker anchorage at the Saudi Aramco Jeddah”.
But it identified the Dominican flagship Desert Rose or the Saudi Arabian Al Amal Al Saudi as possible targets.
A series of attacks
The incident comes after an explosion last month rocked a Greek-powered oil tanker docked at Saudi Arabia’s southern port of Shuqaiq, an attack that a Riyadh-led military coalition blamed on Yemeni Hutu rebels.
No injuries were reported in that explosion on the Maltese-flagged Agrari tank, according to its Greek operator TMS Tankers
Last month, the Huthi rebels said they had hit a factory powered by Saudi brass Aramco Jeddah with a Quds-2 missile. Aramco said the strike tore a hole in an oil tanker, causing an explosion and fire.
The events that underscore the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure occur when the Huthi intensify attacks on Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the military campaign in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is stuck in a military swamp in Yemen that has been embroiled in conflict since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and seized much of the north.
Riyadh led a coalition that intervened to support the internationally recognized government the following year, but the conflict showed no signs of diminishing since.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused regional rival Iran of supplying high-level weapons to the Huthis, an accusation that Tehran denies.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, were killed and millions displaced in the Yemen war, which the United Nations called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated by a union stream.)