LONDON — Two oil tankers came under attack Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, forcing their crews to abandon ship and setting at least one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same waterway, a vital thoroughfare for much of the world’s oil products.
The attacks escalated tensions in an already tense region, where Iran has long been at odds with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and they are backing opposite sides in the civil war in Yemen. Relations between the United States — allied with the UAE and Saudi Arabia — and Iran have also worsened.
Much of the world’s oil and gas come from the Persian Gulf area, bordered by energy powerhouses like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain. Some leaves the region through pipelines, but a significant portion is carried by ships that must pass through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.