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IEA monitoring oil tanker attacks, stands ready to respond: Birol

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IEA monitoring oil tanker attacks, stands ready to respond: Birol

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Birol calls attacks near Strait of Hormuz 'major concern' for global energy security

Karuizawa, Japan — The alleged attacks on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz represent a major concern for global energy security, International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol said Friday, adding that the agency stands ready to respond.

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"It's our core mission - energy security," Birol said at the G20 energy ministerial meeting in Nagano prefecture, Japan. "I would like to underline that we are monitoring the events and their possible implications very closely, and the International Energy Agency is standing ready to act if and when necessary."

Birol said the attacks represent a major concern for global oil security as well as global LNG trade. He made the comments during a speech launching IEA's report on the future of hydrogen.

Related content:
Infographic: Attacks on Middle East oil tankers and infrastructure
Factbox: Risks rise in key oil chokepoint Strait of Hormuz

The Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous were carrying cargoes including naphtha when the incident occurred. Television footage later showed one of the tankers engulfed in flames.

The incidents follow last month's attack on four tankers near the bunkering port of Fujairah on May 12.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran Thursday for the attacks on the two tankers, as well as attacks a month earlier on pipelines in Saudi Arabia and on ships in nearby waters off Fujairah. Pompeo said the US would raise the attack to the United Nations' Security Council.

About 18.5 million b/d of all seaborne oil exports passed through the strait in 2016, mainly to customers in Asia, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Japan, China, India and South Korea are the biggest buyers of the heavier sourer -- or high sulfur -- crudes that Middle East producers tend to supply.

The strait is also crucial for LNG shipments from Qatar, which exported about 6.6 million mt in April, equivalent to about 23.5% of global LNG supply, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Qatar supplied some 2.8 million mt to Europe, representing about 40% of its total exports, while the bulk of the remaining 3.8 million mt was exported to Asia.

Click here to see full-sized image

Infographic: Middle East tanker attacks

--Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

--Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@spglobal.com

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, newsdesk@spglobal.com