Asia oil buyers, Shippers go on alert after Saudi ship

Industry sources said Tuesday that Asian carriers and processors have put ships going to the Middle East in readiness and are expecting a possible increase in maritime security premiums after recent attacks on Saudi oil depots and pipeline facilities.

On Monday, armed drones attacked two of the Saudi-Aramco oil pump stations and forced the state producer to close briefly its East-West pipeline, known as Petroline. The attack came two days after the sabotage of four oil tankers – two of them owned by Saudi Arabia – near the United Arab Emirates.

The attacks delayed global oil prices by more than 1% on Monday, adding to cost increases for Asian processors, who now pay the highest amounts in years for domestic loads in an already tight market as Washington banned the lifting of sanctions for Iranian oil buyers this month.

“It’s a headache for North Asian processors who are heavily dependent on oil supplies in the Middle East, we are monitoring the situation, is a disadvantageous factor for the overall oil market … raising prices “- refusing to be appointed because of the company’s policy.

Asia receives almost 70% of crude oil from the Middle East and any outages in oil production, loading facilities or major transport routes such as the Strait of Hormuz may have a serious impact on Asian economies. Oil tanks are usually fueled at the UAE port in Fujairah, one of the world’s largest bunker distributors, where side attacks occurred.

Following Sunday’s oil tanker strike, oil and shipping companies said they would have to change their ways or take precautions near Fujairah.

“We had a ship being supplied to Fujairah when the incident happened. Thankfully, nothing happened,” said KY Lin, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp..

Lin said: “There are no other bunkering choices nearby. We can choose to be supplied to Singapore instead.”

A company spokesman said Japanese carrier Nippon Yusen has already decided not to send deposits to Fujairah for bunkering, maintenance or crew swaps except for emergencies.

He said: “If its tankers need to be anchored in the port, they are advised to cut their position as far as possible,” the spokesman said.

Ashok Sharma, managing director of BRS Baxi shipping in Singapore, said: “There seems to be no increase in risk (insurance) reward as yet.”

Increasing the risk premium would be inevitable, however, if security in the region continued to deteriorate, he added.


Noriaki Sakai, an executive officer at Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd., Japan’s second largest processor, told reporters Wednesday that while it has no impact on oil loading or shipping operations, the company is closely following the situation.

The second group of attacks was in Petrolian, Saudi Arabia, which mainly carries light raw materials from the eastern fields of the kingdom to its western port of Yanbu.

Saudi oil exports to Asia have not been interrupted because vessels cleared by Asian processors are called mainly to the ports of Ras Tanura and Juaymah in the Gulf, industry sources said.

But Petroline is important because it is an alternative route for Saudi Arabian oil exports that bypass the Strait of Hormuz, one of the sources said.

The source said, “This attack does not affect physical supply, but the psychological effect is great.”

Gas pipeline attacks “likely represent an Iranian effort to expose the weaknesses of oil export infrastructure that can bypass the Strait of Hormuz,” analysts said with the Risk Adviser and Eurasia Group consultancy in a note.

US security agencies believe that prosperous proxies to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers in Fujairah and not Iranian forces themselves, an American official familiar with recent US estimates Tuesday said.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks./

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