Oil Tankers Attacked in the Gulf of Oman, Raising Security and Market Concerns

Genscape Vesseltracker

On June 13, 2019, two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, the assailant and cause remaining inconclusive. The incidents bear similarities to an attack on May 12 when four oil tankers were targeted in the same area near the Strait of Hormuz. With nearly 30 percent of the world’s waterborne crude passing through this region, it creates both political and economic concerns. 

Day-over-day track of tanker Front Altair
Figure 1: Genscape Vesseltracker data shows the day-over-day track of tanker Front Altair from June 12-13, 2019. Click to enlarge

The first attack this week was an explosion aboard the Norwegian-owned clean products tanker “Front Altair.” Broker sources reported Ocean Energy chartered the vessel to transport some 75,000 MT of naphtha from the Mideast Gulf to Japan. Genscape Vesseltracker data shows after it left the ADNOC-owned refinery in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi on June 11 with a laden draft of 11.9 metres, the vessel’s operator declared Kaohsiung in Taiwan as its actual destination, with an anticipated arrival date of June 29. Front Altair was built in 2016 with a total deadweight carrying capacity of 109,894 MT.

The second tanker, Panama-flagged “Kokuka Courageous” suffered similar blasts twice within a three-hour period about 20 miles off the Iranian coast. Reports say it was chartered to transport 25,000 MT of methanol from the Mideast Gulf to East Asia and declared Singapore as its destination after departing from Saudi Arabia’s Jubail refinery on June 10. It is unclear whether the explosions were caused by torpedo, magnetic mine, or another weapon. 

Historical journey of "Kokuka Courageous"
Figure 2: Genscape Vesseltracker data shows the historical journey of tanker "Kokuka Courageous" from June 3-13, 2019. Click to enlarge

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate since the U.S. placed sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Iran threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if exports continue to be blocked. Many fear global oil access could be at risk with mounting tension in such a vital region.

These tensions have immediate impacts to commodity shipments and pricing. Crude oil prices rose over 3 percent as a result, indirectly increasing Iran’s oil production revenue. With Genscape Vesseltracker, you can stay on top of the waterborne crude movements and receive alerts on any vessel changes including status or destination. To learn more or to request a demo, please click here.