Malaysia jails 8 Indonesians for hijacking oil tanker last year
Representational Image of an oil tanker Reuters

An Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, is on fire after a blast on Friday. The oil tanker belonging to Iran's national oil company (NOIC) was 97km away from the Saudi port city of Jeddah when the explosion happened.

Iran's National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said the hull of the ship was it with two separate explosions. "All the ship's crew are safe and the ship is stable too," NITC added, according to Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, Iran's Students News Agency (ISNA) reported the blast was believed to be an act of terror. "Experts believe it was a terrorist attack," ISNA reported.

Tankertrackers, which monitors oil tanker movement, said the Iranian ship was fully loaded with one million barrels of oil. The large tanker is the one that "does the Syria route", said an Al Jazeera reporter.

Al Jazeera also added that this is the third time in the past six months that an Iranian tanker has been attacked in this volatile region.

Vessel 'does Syria route'

Simmering tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated after a drone attack on Saudi oil facilities in September. The drone attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels set alight two major oil facilities run by Aramco, causing major disruption in global supplies.

The drone attack, which Riyadh suspects is the handiwork of Iran, caused large-scale fires at the refinery in the city of Abqaiq in the Kingdom's oil-rich Eastern Province, as well as the blaze at the Khurais oil field, around 150 km from Riyadh.

(More details awaited)