Saudi Arabia said Monday two oil tankers were hit by a sabotage attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the attack had caused “significant damage” to the structure of the two vessels, but without causing any casualties or oil spill, according to the official SPA news agency.
This attack “aims to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world,” he said.
According to the Saudi minister, one of the vessels was en route to be loaded with crude oil to the U.S.
He, however, did not give details about the party responsible for the attack.
“The international community has a joint responsibility to protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy,” al-Falih said.
There was no comment from the UAE authorities on the reported attack.
Monday’s attack came one day after the UAE said four commercial ships were hit by sabotage attacks off the coast of the port city of Fujairah.
The UAE, however, did not give details about the nature of the sabotage or who was behind it.
The port of Fujairah is about 85 miles south of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.
Tension has been rising between the U.S. and Iran with Washington sending a Patriot missile battery and a Navy amphibious transport dock ship to the Middle East.
The U.S. administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in November after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and five other countries.
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would resume high-level enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade levels if Tehran’s interests in the nuclear deal are not protected within 60 days.
By Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed in Riyadh