- A spokesman for the Yemeni Houthi rebels said they deployed 10 drones in the attack.
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for this attack, saying there was no evidence that the attack originated in Yemen.
- Prince Abdulaziz said the attacks “resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants.”
Saudi Arabia cut oil and gas production following drone strikes on its two main oil facilities, which are run by state-owned company Saudi Aramco. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the attack had reduced crude oil production by 5.7 million barrels per day— about half of royal production.
A spokesman for the Yemeni Houthi rebels said they deployed 10 drones in the attack. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for this attack, saying there was no evidence that the attack originated in Yemen. The Saudis lead a military coalition— backed by the West— which supports the Yemeni government, while Iran supports the Houthi rebel group.
In a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Prince Abdulaziz said the attacks “resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants.” He said that some of the shortfalls would be compensated by using Aramco oil stocks. The situation at both facilities was controlled, said Aramco CEO, Amin Nasser. He added that no fatalities were reported in the attack.
In a tweet, Mike Pompeo described the attack as an unprecedented attack on world energy supplies. “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted. Tensions between the US and Iran have increased since last year, when President Trump pulled America back from an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, and re-imposed sanctions.
Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea told Almasirah TV, which is owned by the Houthi movement and based in Beirut, that the Saudis can expect further attacks in the future. He said that the attack on Saturday was one of the biggest operations ever carried out by Houthi forces in Saudi Arabia.
Television broadcasts showed large flames in Abqaiq, the site of Aramco’s biggest oil processing plant, while a second drone attack set fires in the Khurais oil field. Later, the SPA reported that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had told US President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation that the kingdom was ready and able to deal with this terrorist aggression.
The White House said Trump had offered US support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself. In a written statement, the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, called the attack “very alarming” and called on all parties in the Yemeni conflict to exercise restraint.
Abqaiq is about 60 km southwest of Dhahran in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, while Khurais, is about 200 km further southwest, and is the second-largest oil field in the country. Saudi security forces foiled al-Qaeda’s efforts to attack Abqaiq facilities with a suicide bombing in 2006.
Production cuts ‘could affect world oil prices’
Aramco is not only the largest oil producer in the world but also the richest company in the world. The Khurais oil field produces about 1% of the world’s oil supply, and Abqaiq is the company’s largest facility, with the capacity to process 7% of global supply. Brief or partial disruptions can affect the company, and its oil supply, due to the scale of production.
Reports say that half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production could have stopped altogether due to these attacks. Saudi Arabia produces 10% of the world’s crude oil supply. The cut in half could have a significant impact on oil prices on Monday when the market opens.
The success of the drone attack revealed Aramco’s infrastructure vulnerabilities, as the company was trying to show its best image while preparing to sell its shares on the stock market. And this event raises fears that rising tensions in the Arabian Peninsula could jeopardize world oil supplies, potentially threatening a fifth of oil supplies passing through the Strait of Hormuz.