What happened aboard the BW Rhine? According to the Singaporean owner of the ship, an explosion caused from “outside” affected this tanker off the port city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
The oil tanker “BW Rhine was hit from the outside while unloading in Jeddah … causing an explosion and a fire on board,” said the owner Hafnia in a statement, without giving further details.
An explosion on a Greek tanker last month
Saudi authorities did not immediately confirm the explosion, which, according to the United Kingdom’s Office for Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), took place on Sunday off Jeddah, a key port on the Red Sea and center of distribution for Saudi oil giant Aramco.
Last month, an explosion rocked a Greek tanker in the Saudi port of Al-Shuqaiq in southern Saudi Arabia. The military coalition led by Ryad, which intervenes in Yemen at war against the Houthi rebels, had attributed to the latter the responsibility for this act. Dryad Global, a London-based marine watch company, reported on Sunday’s explosion, saying it hit an oil tanker “at the main anchorage” at Aramco port in Jeddah.
Ryad accuse l’Iran
The explosion is reported as Iran-backed Houthi rebels step up attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the military campaign in Yemen. Last month, the rebels said they had hit a factory operated by Aramco in Jeddah with a missile. The Saudi state-owned company, the world’s largest exporter of crude, had reported that the strike had pierced an oil reservoir, triggering an explosion and fire.
These attacks underscore the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s multibillion-dollar oil infrastructure. Riyadh has repeatedly accused Tehran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Houthis, which Iran denies. The conflict in Yemen has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 2014 and has caused, according to the UN, the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world.