- Iran seized an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, deepening shipping tensions in the Middle East, Bloomberg reports.
- The hijacking is a response to the sanctions dispute last year when the US seized an Iranian tanker.
- The incident marks the latest turmoil in the Red Sea, which threatens to disrupt global energy flows.
Iran hijacked an oil tanker involved in the US-Iran sanctions fight, deepening shipping turmoil in the Middle East, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The tanker, St. Nicholas, was captured last year in response to a U.S. Justice Department operation that seized the same ship (then called the Suez Rajon) while it was carrying 980,000 barrels of crude oil.
“The American oil tanker was seized by court order in response to Iranian oil theft by the United States in 2023,” Iranian news outlet Mehr said.
The UK Maritime Trade Organization said a group of four to five armed men wearing “military-style black uniforms with black masks” boarded the tanker Thursday morning, 50 nautical miles east of Sohar, Oman.
The captured tankers are being transferred to undisclosed ports in Iran, Mehr said.
The news highlights the escalating conflict in the Red Sea as Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia continues to attack commercial vessels, increasing the risk to cargo ships passing through a major artery of global trade. The group launched 14 drone strikes on 16 December, 17 drone and missile strikes on 26 December, and attempted to capture a cargo ship on 31 December.
Some analysts say an increase in attacks on cargo ships could lead to another spike in global inflation as the turmoil increases container and insurance costs. An index tracking global container rates said prices rose 61% in the first week of 2024 due to the chaos in the trade route.