Oil prices surge after Gulf of Oman tanker attacks

The Saudi oil tanker Al-Marzoqah was one of the four ships damaged in alleged ‘sabotage attacks’ a month earlier off the coast of Fujairah. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Oil prices surge after Gulf of Oman tanker attacks

  • The attacks took place to the east of the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies, raising fears of disruption to the global energy trade
  • They come at a time of heightened tensions over Iran’s activities in the region and after Tehran has repeatedly threatened to disrupt shipping in and out of the Arabian Gulf

LONDON: Twin attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, close to the world’s biggest energy chokepoint, sent oil prices surging by as much as 4.5 percent on Thursday.

The attacks took place to the east of the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies, raising fears of disruption to the global energy trade. 

They come at a time of heightened tensions over Iran’s activities in the region and after Tehran has repeatedly threatened to disrupt shipping in and out of the Arabian Gulf.

Benchmark brent crude prices were up by 1.8 percent to $61.06 at around 4 p.m. GMT, having risen as much as 4.5 percent earlier in the day.

Thursday’s attacks involved the Front Altair, which caught fire in between the coast of Iran and the UAE after an explosion, and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which was abandoned after being hit by a suspected torpedo.

The incidents follow the “sabotage” of four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port last month.

Robin Mills, CEO of consultancy Qamar Energy, told Arab News that Thursday’s attacks were “considerably” more serious than the Fujairah incident. 

“Security will no doubt be beefed up, but it will have to be extended further if there is any repetition of such an attack,” he said. 

The impact on oil prices came despite global exporters having the capacity to boost production if needed, Mills added. 

“On the overall market, demand growth is weakening and there is plenty of spare capacity, but most of this is in the Gulf, of course. So (it is) not surprising we saw the price response,” he said. 

Andy Lipow, an analyst at Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said the attacks could have a further knock-on impact on the market, notably on insurance risk premiums. 

“These types of attacks have always been a concern,” he told Reuters.

“But the impact of tanker owners not chartering their vessels and insurance companies potentially refusing to provide coverage could further exacerbate the supply problem.”


Airbus to launch new A321 with nearly 200 orders: sources

Updated 40 min 34 sec ago
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Airbus to launch new A321 with nearly 200 orders: sources

  • The Paris Air Show is traditionally a slugging match between Airbus and Boeing sales teams
  • But analysts expect this year’s show to be relatively subdued

PARIS: Airbus will launch a long-range version of its A321neo jet at the Paris Air Show on Monday, aiming to carve out new routes for airlines with smaller planes and steal a march on rival Boeing’s plans for a possible new mid-market jet.
The European planemaker will announce close to 200 orders for the new model — the A321XLR — over the week, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The aerospace industry’s biggest annual event, which alternates with Britain’s Farnborough Airshow, is traditionally a slugging match between Airbus and Boeing sales teams in the $150 billion a year commercial aircraft market.
But analysts expect this year’s show to be relatively subdued, with slowing economies, trade tensions and geopolitical uncertainty unsettling airlines, highlighted by a profit warning from Germany’s Lufthansa late on Sunday.
Airbus and Boeing are also grappling with their own problems. The US planemaker strives to bring its top-selling 737 MAX jet back into service after its grounding following two fatal crashes. Airbus, meanwhile, is occupied with a long-running corruption scandal.
Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg on Sunday said he expected to announce orders for wide-body jets at the show but his main focus at the event is safety.
Analysts expect anything from 400 to 800 commercial aircraft orders and commitments at the show, compared with 959 at Farnborough last year, though it can be hard to identify truly new business against firmed-up commitments and switched models.
Airbus’s A321XLR is set to be the longest-range narrow-body jetliner as airlines look to maximize the flexibility of more fuel-efficient, single-aisle aircraft.


Its range of 4,500 nautical miles will leapfrog the out-of-production Boeing 757 and nudges it into the long-jump category occupied by more costly wide-body jets.
It also eats into a range category targeted by a possible mid-market twin-aisle jet — the NMA — under review by Boeing.
But there is a debate over whether passengers will enjoy flying longer distances in medium-haul planes and at what price.
In particular, the rise of the single-aisle, long-distance jet involves revisiting years of industry marketing about the benefit of roomier cabins to counter jet lag on long trips.
Boeing’s Muilenburg on Sunday said that the A321XLR would only “scratch an edge” of the market segment targeted by the NMA.