Iran oil tanker forced to seek repairs in Saudi port
Tehran (AFP) –
An Iranian tanker was forced to seek repairs at a Saudi port after suffering "engine failure and loss of control", the Iranian oil ministry's SHANA news agency reported Thursday.
The rare docking in Iran's regional arch-foe, came as Washington was poised to end all remaining exemptions to crippling sanctions on Iranian oil exports, a move strongly supported by the kingdom.
SHANA said that the incident began on Tuesday morning when the tanker issued a distress call.
"One of the National Iranian Tanker Company's tankers, moving through the Red Sea towards the Suez Canal, failed to continue its path due to water leaking into its engine room," it reported.
"With the coordination of the relevant officials, the ship was guided to Jeddah as the nearest safe port to fix the problem and take the necessary measures."
SHANA identifed the tanker as the Happiness 1, with a crew of 26 -- 24 Iranians and two Bangladeshis. The crew are safe and sound, it said.
SHANA quoted the tanker company as denying that the incident had caused any environmental damage.
It did not specify whether the ship had continued on its way by Thursday or remained in port in Jeddah.
Thursday was the date set by Washington for the end of all waivers it granted from its renewed sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
All Iranian exports, including to key remaining customers China, India and Turkey, are now subject to the sanctions imposed in November.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have intensified in recent years.
The region rivals have had no diplomatic relations since Riyadh broke off ties in 2016 after protesters angry at its execution of a top Shiite cleric torched its diplomatic missions in Iran.
In January 2018, another Iranian tanker, the Sanchi, struck the Chinese freighter CF Crystal off the coast of Shanghai and went down in a ball of flames, seemingly killing its entire crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis and causing a huge oil spill.
? 2019 AFP