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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Explosion strikes tanker off Saudi port: maritime sources

Saudi Arabia is stuck in a military quagmire in Yemen (Getty)

Date of publication: 14 December, 2020

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An explosion struck a tanker off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, maritime sources said on Monday, without elaborating on the cause.

An explosion struck a tanker off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, maritime sources said on Monday, without elaborating on the cause.

Saudi authorities did not immediately confirm the blast, which the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) said occurred on Sunday off Jeddah, a key Red Sea port and distribution centre for oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The incident comes after an explosion last month rocked a Greek-operated oil tanker docked at Saudi Arabia's southern port of Shuqaiq, an attack that a Riyadh-led military coalition blamed on Yemen's Houthi rebels.

Dryad Global, a London-based maritime intelligence firm, also reported Sunday's explosion, saying it struck a vessel while "carrying out operations within the main tanker anchorage at the Saudi Aramco Jeddah port".

The affected vessel may be the Dominican-flagged tanker Desert Rose or the Saudi-flagged Al Amal Al Saudi, it added.

Based on the coordinates offered by the UKMTO, oil shipping monitor Tanker Trackers identified the vessel as Al Amal Al Saudi.

"This is a bunkering tanker which fuels other vessels. No real impact on crude oil exports," Tanker Trackers said on Twitter.

The incident comes as the Iran-backed Houthis step up attacks on Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the military campaign in Yemen.

Read more: How a future Biden White House can end the war in Yemen

Last month, the rebels said they struck a plant operated by Saudi Aramco Jeddah with a Quds-2 missile. Aramco said that strike tore a hole in an oil tank, triggering an explosion and fire.

The attacks underscores the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia's multi-billion dollar oil infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia is stuck in a military quagmire in Yemen, which has been locked in conflict since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north.

Riyah led a coalition that intervened to support the internationally recognised government the following year, but the conflict has shown no signs of abating since.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Houthis, a charge Tehran denies.

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