The explosions on the tanker occurred between 5am and 5.20am local time damaging two of its main oil tanks, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
A spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet overseeing the Middle East told Associated Press that authorities were “aware of reports of this incident” but declined to comment further.
Information from ship movement monitors showed Sinopa/Sabiti had kept its tracker off for the last two months – not an unusual move for ships trying to avoid U.S. sanctions. The device now shows the ship in the Red Sea, reportedly heading south back towards the Persian gulf, and fully loaded, according to TankerTrackers.com.
An Iranian official said the ship was still in the same location, but would soon alter course.
“It is still in the Red Sea but its route will change … No help was offered to assist by any country,” an official from the National Iranian Tanker Company said, according to ISNA.
The Sinopa/Sabiti reappeared on ship tracking sites after reports of the attack and was seen heading south towards the Gulf Of Aden. It was last located off the coast of Iran in late August, suggesting its tracking device had been switched off since then. The MarineTraffic.com website put its location at about 130 kilometres south-west of Jeddah late Friday morning. The ship was carrying a full load of about 1 million barrels of crude oil, according to an analysis from data firm Refinitiv.
After initially saying the spill from the tanker had been halted and the damage minimised, the Iranian oil ministry’s Shana news service said crude was again flowing into the Red Sea. No one has provided any assistance the damaged ship, Al-Alam news channel reported citing Nasrollah Sardashti, head of NITC.
Earlier this month, 11 supertankers were waiting to load oil cargoes from Saudi Arabian ports after an attack on the country’s oil facilities halved the kingdom’s production.
The attack on Saudi Arabia that shut 5 per cent of global crude output triggered the biggest surge in oil prices since 1991.
1 Fluid barrel = 119.240471 liters
Header: SINOPA on fire, source – Haaretz Israel