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Saudis Boost Security Measures After Oil Tanker Attacks

Saudi Arabia is trying to boost security measures in place for its oil infrastructure and in territorial waters, Russian media quoted Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying on Monday, after two apparent attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East in two months.

Countries that get their crude oil via the shipping routes in the Middle East should protect their own ships along the lanes, U.S. President Donald Trump said last week, as tensions between the United States and Iran continue to simmer.

Last month, two oil tankers—one owned by a Japanese firm and the other by a Norwegian company—were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the open seas. The daily flows of oil through the Strait of Hormuz account for around 30 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids. 

The escalation of tension followed incidents in May with four oil tankers attacked near the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a drone attack on a key onshore oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. 

While Iran vehemently denies involvement in the attacks on the two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the U.S. is blaming the Islamic Republic of being behind the attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the Strait of Hormuz will remain open for all vessels.

Days later, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it had violated Iran’s air space. The U.S. says that the drone was in international air space.

The U.S. had apparently prepared a response to the attacks with planned hits on Iranian targets, before President Trump stopped a planned strike 10 minutes before it was due to begin, because, he said, they were “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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