The explosions on the tanker, operated by the National Iranian Oil Company, occurred between 5am and 5.20am local time damaging two of its main oil tanks, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
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Saheb Sadeghi, the spokesman for the National Iranian Tanker Company, said in a call with Iran’s Press TV that two missiles hit the tanker and probably came from the direction of Saudi Arabia.
Oil prices extended gains above $60 a barrel after the report, which comes amid heightened tensions after drone and missile strikes on a key Saudi oil facility last month briefly cut global supplies by 5 percent.
The explosion is likely an act of terrorism, according to the Islamic Student’s News Agency, which cited unnamed experts.
The Saudi Ports Authority confirmed that an incident involving a tanker had occurred near but not in Jeddah Port overnight, but was unable to verify if the vessel was Iranian, according to a press officer.
The incident comes weeks after a devastating attack on a major Saudi oil facility in Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field on September 14 temporarily halved the leading OPEC member’s output. Saudi Arabia blamed that attack on Iran.
The Iranian government denied responsibility but Friday’s incident raised the prospect that the oil-exporting region would be shaken by tit-for-tat attacks.
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