Khalid Al-Falih made the comments in a statement early on Monday by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, before he labelled the attack a “dangerous threat to the safety and navigation and international security”. He said the two tankers were targeted off the coast of Fujairah, one of the Emirates in the UAE. The UAE on Sunday said the sabotage targeted four boats, without elaborating or naming suspects.
It came just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets aired false reports of explosions at the nearby Emirati port in Fujairah, which bunkers and ships oil.
Khalid Al-Falihsaid said one tanker was en route to the kingdom to be loaded with Saudi crude oil to send to the United States.
He said: “Fortunately, the attack didn’t lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”
The US has issued a new alert to maritime traffic over alleged “acts of sabotage” of ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates amid heightened regional tensions between American and Iran.
The US Maritime Administration, which stressing the incidents had not been confirmed, warned shippers early Monday to exercise caution when travelling past Fujairah, a port city on the eastern edge of the United Arab Emirates on the Gulf of Oman.
It gave coordinates of the alleged sabotage, putting it just north of Fujairah.
Emirati officials on Sunday declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or say who might have been responsible.
However, the reported incident came after the US warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America deploys an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran, though no official has given details of them.
Tensions have risen since Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran’s economy into crisis.
Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
Fujairah’s port is located about 85 miles from the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.
The facility handles oil for shipping, as well as general and bulk cargo. It is seen as strategically located, serving shipping routes in the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.