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

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On Thursday, Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the Houthi attacks were an irresponsible act that demonstrated the importance of ousting the Iran-backed group from control of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has identified two Bahri VLCCs as being the vessels attacked by Yemen's Houthi movement in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday morning.

Oil prices fell on Friday, weighed down by a drop in the US equities market, but Brent still marked a weekly increase, supported by easing trade tensions and a temporary shutdown by Saudi Arabia of a key crude oil shipping lane.

WTI is now trading back over 70.0 per barrel, and leaning into the bullish side heading into the latter half of the week; oil prices are receiving a boost after Saudi Arabia announced that it was halting oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb shipping lane in the Red Sea.

The coalition on July 1 halted an attack on the Houthi-held city to aid U.N. efforts at a political solution that would avert an all-out assault on the Red Sea port, which the United Nations fears could trigger a starvation throughout the country.

The United Nations fears that cutting off Hodeidah port, a lifeline for millions, may trigger a famine in Yemen where around 8.4 million people are believed to be facing starvation.

An estimated 4.8m barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through Bab al-Mandeb in 2016, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.

Oil tankers from the Gulf pass through the Bab al-Mandab to enter the Red Sea as they head for Europe via the Suez Canal.

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The Bab al-Mandeb strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km (12 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.

Mr al-Falih said: "The two million barrels capacity for each tanker were full of crude oil cargo at the time and were headed for export. The Company is carefully assessing the situation and will take further action as prudence demands", Saudi Aramco said in a statement Wednesday.

One of the coalition's main justifications for intervening in Yemen's war in 2015 was to protect shipping routes such as the Red Sea.

Yemen´s government, in a statement Thursday carried by the state-run Saba news agency, condemned the attack on shipping and urged the worldwide community to "immediately stand with and support" the coalition in its fight against the Huthis.

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

No details of what this intervention entailed were provided.

Dubai: Saudi Arabia´s halt to oil shipments through a strategic waterway after Yemeni rebel attacks could provoke an global intervention in Yemen´s "forgotten" war, analysts say.

The Houthis, who have also launched missile attacks on Saudi cities, including the capital Riyadh, have threatened to block the strait of Bab al-Mandeb several times to force the coalition to stop its air strikes.

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