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Refinitiv Oil Research: Tanker Attacks off Gulf of Oman on 13 June 2019

Has the tanker war started?

The two tankers are identified as the “FRONT ALTAIR” managed by Frontline and the “KOKUKA COURAGEOUS” managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement There has been a breach of the hull above the water line on the Starboard side as a result of a suspected attack The strait is where about 20 million bpd of oil and gas flows, and any disruption to the shipping channel is bound to have a significant impact on the global oil markets

Refinitiv Oil Research received reports of a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, about 56 NM East of Fujairah. This was later confirmed through various sources including the managers of the vessels in question. The two tankers are identified as the “FRONT ALTAIR” managed by Frontline and the “KOKUKA COURAGEOUS” managed by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement. 

Timeline of Events as it occurred based on Vessel Tracking Data: 

The vessel Front Altair loaded 75,000 MT of Naphtha from the Takreer Refinery Terminal in Ruwais, UAE and departed the port 19:30 GMT on 11th June. After crossing the Strait of Hormuz at around 21:00 GMT on 12th June, Refinitiv Oil Research data shows the vessel to have taken a sharp deviation from its course at 02:47 GMT on 13th June with the speed dropping from 13.5 knots to eventually drifting at mid-sea. At the same time (02:47 GMT), the vessel “HYUNDAI DUBAI” managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement GMBH was 6.8 NM away from Front Altair and can be seen making a sharp course correction towards the ship, most likely on receiving the distress alert. Vessel tracks show the Hyundai Dubai to have stopped near Front Altair between 03:30 – 03:50 GMT, possibly to pick up the crew who abandoned the vessel following the fire that was reportedly due to a surface missile. The Hyundai Dubai then moved away from the Front Altair by about 5 NM where it seems to have handed over the rescued crew members to Iran. Frontline has confirmed that its oil tanker was on fire after this incident and await further update on the same. 

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The vessel Kokuka Courageous carried out a two port loads in Mesaieed, Qatar and Jubail, Saudi Arabia, bound towards Singapore, carrying Methanol. The 27K MT DWT tanker departed Jubail at 07:00 GMT on 10th June and crossed the Strait of Hormuz at 21:00 GMT on 12th June. This vessel also seem to have been under attack around the same time and was seen stopped at 06:20 GMT on 13th June, about 80 NM East of Fujairah. The ship’s managers – Bernhard Schulte has released an official statement that there has been a breach of the hull above the water line on the Starboard side as a result of a suspected attack. The crew of this vessel has been reported to have been picked up by the service vessel “COASTAL ACE”. It has been reported by the Japanese shipping company – KOKUKA SANGYO President, that its ship was hit twice over a three hour period. Reports following the attack are still awaited to be confirmed. 

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Crew from both vessels have been reported to be taken on-board the Iranian navy rescue vessels and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask. Refinitiv Oil research had published last year the geographical importance of the Strait of Hormuz and whether the threats from Iran to close the strait could actually be implemented with the potential impact to the oil markets. The strait is of special importance as about 20 million bpd of oil and gas flows through them and any disruption to the shipping channel or traffic is bound to have a significant impact on the global oil markets. This was evident with the oil prices surging by as much as 4% on Thursday morning following the news on the two attacks. 

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