Iraq defuses mine attached to oil tanker, no impact on crude exports: ministry
Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, defused Jan. 2 a sea mine attached to a tanker in the Persian Gulf without impact on crude exports or loadings, the oil ministry and the State Oil Marketing Organization said in statements.
Iraqi authorities discovered on Dec. 31 the sea mine on the tanker Pola in international waters in the Persian Gulf, located some 28 nautical miles away from Iraqi oil ports, while it was refueling another ship. Pola was used by SOMO as floating storage vessel for high-sulfur fuel oil intended for exports.
“The incident had no effect on oil exports, oil tankers loading, and no one was injured nor was there any material damage,” SOMO and the oil ministry said Jan. 2.
The government’s Security Media Cell said an investigation is currently underway regarding the incident.
Iraq exports the majority of its crude through its southern oil ports that lie in the Persian Gulf. Federal oil exports in December, excluding those from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, averaged 2.846 million b/d, according to ministry’s preliminary data released Jan. 1, with 2.748 million b/d exported from southern ports.
The December exports were 5% higher than November’s 2.709 million b/d, according to ministry data.
Red Sea attacks
Pola carried HSFO produced from Iraqi refineries that is transferred on a ship-to-ship basis, SOMO had said earlier.
No one has claimed responsibility for the incident in the Persian Gulf, where ships were targeted in 2019, sparking concern about maritime security in the waters that transport the majority of the region’s oil and gas exports.
The latest incident follows recent attacks in the Red Sea, where Iranian-aligned Yemeni Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for targeting Saudi oil infrastructure.
An oil products tanker was hit by an explosion early Dec. 14 while discharging a gasoline cargo at Saudi Arabia’s western port of Jeddah in the latest incident following a spate of oil-related attacks in the Red Sea north of the Yemeni border.
The Dec. 14 incident highlighted the risks involved in maritime trade in the Middle East in general and Red Sea region in particular where armed guards man the ships and War Risk Premia is to be paid while moving cargoes.
The Strait of Hormuz, which leads to the Persian Gulf, is a critical chokepoint through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil passes. Close to 100 VLCCs load crude in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea region each month in spot deals alone. In addition, there are more loadings on period chartered VLCCs and also in Suezmax and Aframax tankers.