Oil tanker hit by blast at Saudi terminal, Saudi Arabia confirms


LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - An explosion damaged a Greek-managed tanker at a Saudi Arabian terminal on the Red Sea just north of the Yemeni border, the ship's manager said on Wednesday, in an attack confirmed by Saudi Arabia.

In a statement published by state media, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said a commercial vessel suffered minor damage from shrapnel in what it described as a foiled terrorist attack.

Athens-based TMS Tankers said the Maltese-flagged vessel it managed was "attacked by an unknown source" while at berth in Shuqaiq in Saudi Arabia after it had completed discharging and was preparing to depart.

"The Agrari was struck about one meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach," TMS Tankers said in a statement.

"It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries. No pollution has been reported. The vessel is in ballast condition and stable," the company said, adding that an investigation was underway.

The blast follows a number of recent security incidents concerning Saudi oil infrastructure.

British maritime security company Ambrey said earlier that Agrari was damaged by a mine while berthed at the al-Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant.

"The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel," Ambrey said in a statement. It did not say when the incident happened but noted the vessel had arrived at al-Shuqaiq on Nov. 23.

A TMS company source told Reuters earlier on Wednesday: "I can't confirm what exactly the cause was. It is possible [that it was from a mine], certainly it was a blast."

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations separately said it was aware a vessel had experienced an explosion at Shuqaiq.

The Agrari is an aframax crude oil tanker, data on TMS Tankers website showed.

Yemen's Houthi group on Monday claimed a strike on a Saudi Aramco petroleum products distribution plant in Jeddah. Aramco and Saudi authorities confirmed the attack.

Two weeks ago, a fire near a floating platform belonging to the Jazan oil products terminal was contained with no injuries.

That fire was the result of another attempted Houthi attack, in which the Saudi-led coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats in the southern Red Sea.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Houthis regarding the latest incident.

Houthi leader Muhammed Ali Houthi did not explicitly deny the attack, but said in a tweet that any military or security operations are announced through military and security establishments officially.

On Tuesday the coalition said it had destroyed five Houthi-laid mines in the Red Sea.

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul in London, Lisa Barrington in Dubai, Renee Maltezou in Athens; writing by Lisa Barrington; editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich and Kirsten Donovan)

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