Singapore oil tanker ablaze after being hit by ‘external source’ off Saudi Arabia, oil leak possible, operator says

Shipping company Hafnia has confirmed that one of its vessels was hit by an unidentified “external source” causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard while the tanker was discharging in Jeddah.

The Singapore-flagged oil tanker BW Rhine was struck by an “external source” in the early hours of Monday morning as it discharged at a Red Sea port, its operator, Hafnia, has said. 

Hafnia’s press release says the ship was hit at approximately 00:40 local time on December 14, 2020 at the port of Jeddah, causing an explosion and a fire to break out onboard. 

The operator has confirmed that all 22 seafarers have been accounted for and there were no injuries. 

The tanker has hull damage, but the crew, with the assistance of the shore fire brigade and tugboats, successfully extinguished the blaze. 

Hafnia said it is possible that “some oil has escaped the vessel” but added that the “instrumentation currently indicates that oil levels on board are at the same level as before the incident.”

The vessel immediately stopped discharge operations following the incident. 

It is reported that the BW Rhine had been loaded with fuel at the Saudi port of Yanbu, a major refining center, on December 8 before heading south to Jeddah. 

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No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion but the event comes as Yemen-based Houthi rebels step up operations against Saudi targets following a protracted war between the two sides.

The Houthis have an established maritime operation against Saudi interests and allies. 

The Iran-backed group has frequently targeted oil-laden tankers in the Red Sea and has even restricted UN access to a stricken and decaying oil tanker off the Yemeni coast, in what is described as a potential environmental disaster waiting to happen. 

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Saudi authorities are yet to comment on the explosion, with Monday’s events adding to a concerning trend of oil tankers being targeted in the Red Sea. 

At the end of November, a Maltese-flagged oil tanker sustained minor damage following an “attack” while in berth at the port of al-Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

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Source:RT World News

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