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Oil slick spotted after Saudi tanker sabotaged

HELSINKI: A Saudi tanker damaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in mid-May appears to have leaked a trail of oil, satellite images released on Friday show. Radar satellites operated by the Finnish company Iceye photographed the vessel Amjad on May 14, two days after it and three other ships, including another Saudi tanker, were mysteriously sabotaged in the Sea of Oman.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE, both close allies of the United States, have yet given details on the exact nature of those attacks, which come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Riyadh’s arch rival Tehran. “There is a trail of oil that is on the surface of the sea,” Iceye’s vice president Mikko Keranen said. “The trail is linked to the vessel Amjad and we have had a third party verify that for us,” Keranen said, adding that images taken by the European Space Agency satellite Sentinel-2 also seem to confirm the presence of oil around the ship.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said after the attack there were no casualties or any oil spill from the tankers. The oil in the pictures could be fuel from the engine. The strikes on the ships were followed two days later by drone attacks on the key Saudi east-west oil pipeline, which Saudi Arabia denounced as an attack on the security of the world’s oil supplies.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes and said they were a response to “crimes” committed by Saudi Arabia and its allies during more than four years of war in support of the government. The Saudi cabinet called for “confronting terrorist entities which carry out such sabotage acts, including the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.” Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil, currently pumps around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) of which around seven million bpd are exported. – AFP

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