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Merchant ship accosted by unknown craft in security incident in Gulf of Oman

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Merchant ship accosted by unknown craft in security incident in Gulf of Oman

Highlights

Incident occurred 70 nautical miles off Port Sultan Qaboos

UKMTO urges vessels to exercise caution in the area

Uptick seen in 2022 in maritime incidents in region

A merchant ship in the Gulf of Oman reported a suspicious approach by an unknown craft on Jan. 11, close to the Port Sultan Qaboos, the UK Maritime Trade Operations, amid continued tensions in key regional chokepoints for global crude.

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The vessel was approached by a "white hulled craft", which took an interest and then departed.

The incident is the latest in a spate of attacks and threats against vessels transiting waterbodies around the Arabian Peninsula.

The merchant vessel was positioned 70 nautical miles east of the Port Sultan Qaboos when it reported the incident.

The UKMTO urged vessels transiting the area to exercise caution. Security incidents targeting oil facilities, pipelines, tankers and shipping saw a steep upward trend in 2021, according to data compiled by S&P Global Platts Oil Security Sentinel.

The number of incidents reported last year peaked, with 27 confirmed security events verified between Jan. 1 and Sept. 6.

Since 2017, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab chokepoint have experienced the majority of maritime attacks in the region, according to Platts' data.

On Jan. 5, the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen reported a distress call from an "oil tanker" transiting the Red Sea coming under "armed harassment" off the coast from unidentified attackers.

These has seen an uptick in maritime incidents in the region in 2022. On Jan. 3, the Saudi-led coalition accused the Houthi group of hijacking a UAE-flagged cargo ship, the RWABEE, in the Red Sea.

Houthi militants in Yemen have previously claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on Saudi Arabia's energy infrastructure, including pipelines and refineries.