London’s marine insurance market is to meet urgently in the next few days to assess whether it needs to change the risk level for vessels in the Gulf, following a rocket attack on ships off the UAE coast earlier this week.
On Tuesday, armed drones attacked two Saudi Aramco oil pumping stations forcing the state producer to shut its East-West pipeline.
That incident came two days after an attack on four oil tankers off Fujairah in the UAE.
Two Saudi oil tankers sustained ‘significant damage’. A Norwegian-registered vessel and a UAE-flagged ship were also damaged.
The United States says groups sympathetic to Iran are behind all of the attacks, but Tehran has distanced itself from the incidents – and no one has yet claimed any responsibility for either of the attacks.
“The Joint War Committee will meet very soon to assess the situation in the Gulf,” says Neil Roberts, head of marine underwriting at Lloyd’s Market Association.
The Joint War Committee normally meets every three months to review areas it considers high risk for merchant vessels and prone to war, strikes, terrorism and related perils, and its guidance is watched closely, influencing underwriters’ considerations over insurance premiums.
Japan’s Nippon Yusen has already stopped sending its tankers to Fujairah for bunkering, maintenance and crew swaps, except for emergencies, according to a company spokesman.