It was first reported earlier today (July 25th, 2018) by the Almasirah news channel (owned by the Ansarullah movement in Yemen) that the Yemeni naval forces attacked a Saudi naval vessel called DAMMAM. Saudi Arabia, in turn, issued a statement that the attack was done on a Saudi oil tanker by Houthi rebels. They did not release the name of the vessel, but have said that even though there’s a slight damage to the vessel, it could have led to an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
We had a look for you, and ran all the filters on MarineTraffic. The only candidate that fits the bill is the AL-MAHFOZA. She wears a Saudi flag and is transporting most likely heavy crude oil from the east coast oil terminal of Ras Tanura to the Shuqaiq II Water & Electric Plant (850 megawatts) just north of Jazan, on the west coast. Interestingly enough, her satellite AIS transponder was SWITCHED OFF off the coast of Oman prior to sailing along the Yemeni coastline. There’s a fair chance there was a military escort which may have attracted such an assault. Oddly though, the possible evasive maneuver she executed in the Red Sea took place TWO DAYS AGO on July 23rd.
Was she attacked then instead of today? We see changes in speed and direction to indicate it.
In Saudi Arabia, most electricity is generated from burning crude oil directly, a practice referred to as “Direct Use” in the JODI Data reports. The number reaches its highest levels during the thick of summer as three quarters of all consumption goes towards air conditioning. Unfortunately; the weather’s been cloudy so we do not have any clear satellite imagery at hand, but that will hopefully change over the coming days.
Vessel Data source: MarineTraffic