Yemen’s Houthi rebels took responsibility for Saturday’s attacks on two facilities of Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil producer Saudi Aramco, AP reported on Sunday. The attack, which triggered a massive fire, hit almost half of the supplies of the world’s largest oil exporter.
The incident led to the “temporary suspension of production operations” at the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field, said Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. Abqaiq has the world’s largest oil processing plant, and Khurais has the country’s second-largest oilfield.
The fires were soon brought under control, Salman said, adding that no workers were injured. “These attacks do not only target the kingdom’s vital installations but also international oil supplies and threaten their security,” Financial Times quoted the prince as saying.
Around 5.7 million barrels of crude supplies, part of which was offset with stockpiles, were interrupted by the fires, Salman said. Saudi Aramco will also release an update with information in the next two days, the statement added.
The militant group said they launched 10 drones after receiving “intelligence support” from insiders in the kingdom. They also warned that the attacks would get worse if the war continued. “The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” said the group’s military spokesperson Yahia Sarie.
Saudi Arabia is responsible for more than 10% of global crude oil and the loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day would be equal to 5% of the international supply. While the country has claimed production will be restored soon, this loss will directly impact the global supply and raise concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s oil facilities.
The International Energy Agency, which keeps track of international emergency oil stock releases, said it was closely monitoring the situation in the country. “We are in contact with Saudi authorities as well as major producer and consumer nations. For now, markets are well supplied with ample commercial stocks,” it added.
Meanwhile, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday alleged that Tehran was behind almost 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia even as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pretended to engage in diplomacy. Iran is backign the Houthis in the Yemeni civil war.
“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. “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Last year, in November, the United States had re-imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in France Trump said he was open to meeting Rouhani under the right circumstances.
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