• Geopolitical tensions in Persian/Arabian Gulf boil over into drone attacks on oil assets

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Tensions in the Persian/Arabian and Omar Gulfs have seen a number of Saudi Arabian oil tankers and other oil-industry vessels and equipment attacked in recent weeks, as the Financial Times reports. In mid-May, two Saudi Arabian, one Norwegian and one United Arab Emirates vessel were hit off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, just south of the Strait of Hormuz, by what is believed to have been explosives launched by underwater drones. The vessels suffered structural damage, but were not sunk, and it is not clear what the intentions of the attackers were. Media reports suggest that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind the attacks, and this appears to make some sense in the strategic context of the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but uncertainty remains. Other attacks in recent weeks have occurred on Saudi oil pumping stations, carried out by aerial drones, with shrapnel said to be similar to that associated with the attacks on the vessels. Yemeni Houthi rebels – already in a tragic civil war with a Saudi-backed group – claimed responsibility for those attacks, and stated they had no involvement with Iran. Whether the tensions will escalate or affect oil supply or prices (which so far appear not to have been influenced) remains to be seen.