The attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman made oil trading prices gyrate on Thursday. One was torpedoes and the other is believed to be attacked by a bomb.
Brent crude jumped as high as $62.50, more than a $2.50 hike, but settled as the day wore on. The price is still up by $1.50 as of this report (11: 30 am June 13). Alaska crude prices typically follow a day later as they are not tracked in the same way as other world oil prices.
June is typically a lackluster time for oil demand as the summer travel season is just starting and heating oil needs are waning. But attacks like the one that occurred today typically drive market reactions, said Randy Ruedrich, a petroleum economist in Anchorage, who has been following the events of the day.
“The world is awash in crude during the low-demand season. We have more supply than is needed in late spring,” Ruedrich observed.
The two oil tankers that were attacked on Thursday are adrift in the Gulf of Oman, and the U.S. State Department is blaming the government of Iran, which may have staged the attack by proxy.
“There are many vassals in the area who could be paid to launch attacks,” Ruedrich said.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said. The State Department had earlier accused Tehran of being behind an attack on four tankers in the same area on May 12.
Oil prices have been dropping steadily for the past month. North Slope crude from Prudhoe Bay was selling for more than $70 a barrel in the winter, but is down to $62.92 today.
The photo above was taken by the Iranian Student News Agency, which reported that the oil tanker Front Altair (operating under a Marshall Islands flag) and Kokuka Courageous (Panama flag) were the two tankers hit. The crews of the two tankers have been evacuated with no injuries reported.