Happy accident: Iran tanker’s sinking feeling

Happy accident: Iran tanker’s sinking feeling


Oh, to be a fly on the hull of the Iranian tanker that broke down in the Red Sea off the Saudi coast. 

Tehran must have been less than happy that it was the Kingdom that came to the rescue of the unfortunately named Happiness 1.

Ironically, the incident occurred soon after Tehran’s latest threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

Who knew they planned to achieve that by using broken- down boats?

Saudi Arabia came to the rescue of the crew without a thought for the latest saber rattling from Iran — or for that country’s attempts to offload its crude despite US sanctions.

However, the incident was a reminder of the potential dangers posed by oil spills from poorly maintained Iranian tankers.

This particular tanker was manufactured in 2003 and was carrying about 1 million barrels of oil through the Suez Canal and then unloading the cargo to the European market for one of the Mediterranean refineries. 

This was the third accident involving an Iranian oil tanker in as many years. It again raises questions about the maintenance of Iranian tankers and their safety procedures. 

Luckily, the crew on board Happiness 1 escaped the fate that befell 30 sailors aboard the Iranian tanker Sanchi, who were lost in the East China Sea last year after their vessel struck another ship and caught fire. 

The latest incident coincided with threats by Iran to circumvent sanctions and close the Strait of Hormuz, a key artery for the global oil trade. Yet who would suffer from such an action? Consuming nations — not producers such as Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps Tehran should consider that outcome and fine tune both its rhetoric and its tanker engines.


Faisal Mrza is an energy and oil market adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Reach him on Twitter: @faisalmrza

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