June 13, 2019 / 7:22 PM / 3 months ago

Saudi Arabia says it has stepped up readiness level, committed to supply oil markets

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is committed to providing reliable oil supplies to global markets and has stepped up readiness to deal with any threats following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf on Thursday, the energy minister said.

Khalid al-Falih condemned the strikes against the tankers — one of which carried methanol from Saudi Arabia — in the Gulf of Oman, which followed an attack last month on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the United Arab Emirates.

“Saudi Arabia will take the measures it deems necessary to protect its ports and territorial waters, calling upon the international community to work with the Kingdom and take responsibility to protect the safety of global maritime navigation,” Falih said in a statement.

He said the energy ministry of the world’s top oil exporter and state oil giant Aramco had raised the level of readiness to deal with “such aggressive terrorist acts” and reaffirmed the kingdom’s commitment to the reliable supply of oil to international markets, the state news agency SPA said.

American and Saudi officials have blamed Iran for the May 12 sabotage of tankers off the UAE’s Fujairah bunkering hub that lies outside the Strait of Hormuz, a charge Tehran denies.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States has assessed, based on intelligence, type of weapons used and level of expertise needed, that Iran is responsible for Thursday’s attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Reporting by Tuqa Khalid and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Elaine Hardcastle

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