Oil prices climb as Iran-backed Houthi rebels attack Saudi Arabian tankers

Saudis halt oil shipments through waterway after Yemen rebel attack

The CNN report came just days after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a pair of Saudi oil tankers traveling through the Bab al-Mandab Strait leading to the Red Sea.

Any move to block the Bab al-Mandeb, which is between the coasts of Yemen and Africa at the southern end of the Red Sea, would virtually halt oil shipments through Egypt's Suez Canal and the SUMED crude pipeline that link the Red Sea and Mediterranean. In a new development after US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, the president of International Court of Justice (ICJ) warned the US Secretary of State Pompeo to refrain from doing anything new against Iran.

"Today's attacks and Saudi announcement will also escalate tensions with Iran, which supports Houthi forces that have been increasingly threatening Saudi onshore and offshore oil assets and flows".

Depressing oil prices, US stock markets broadly fell on Friday. They accuse Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons including missiles, which the group and Tehran deny.

"Fortunately, there were no injuries or oil spill that would have resulted in catastrophic environmental damage", it read.

He said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies were not discussing an option to boost production by more than 1 million bpd.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that the Houthis had attacked two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers in the Red Sea on Wednesday morning, one of which sustained minimal damage.

US energy companies added three oil rigs in the week to July 27, the first time in the past three weeks that drillers have added rigs, General Electric's Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

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The Western-backed alliance of Sunni Muslim Arab states intervened in Yemen's war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis.

"What we are planning to do is give diplomacy every possible chance to secure that", Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, said in London.

Earlier this month, the alliance called a halt to the offensive in order to give United Nations efforts to reach a political solution a chance.

The United Nations fears cutting off Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, risks triggering a starvation in the impoverished country.

The Bab al-Mandeb strait is only 18 miles wide making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.

Brent crude oil futures rose 0.6% to $US74.35 per barrel on Thursday at 6 48 GMT and United States oil reserves fell to a three and a half year low, Reuters reported.

"Coalition warplanes conducted two strikes on a fishing dock and market in Hodeidah, and the yard of the Hodeidah radio building which was damaged by the shrapnel", one resident said.

"This terrorist attack is a unsafe threat to the freedom of navigation and global trade in the Red Sea", said Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

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