ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Energy

Saudi Aramco oil sites hit by drones, disrupting production

Attack reduces kingdom's crude output by half, energy minister says

A satellite image from Planet Labs shows thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.   © AP

DUBAI -- Drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels hit two oil production facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, sparking huge fires that have threatened the global energy supply.

The Interior Ministry confirmed attacks in a statement carried by state-run Saudi Press Agency. The Iranian-backed Houthis claimed credit, saying 10 drones were used in the assault.

The Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said the attack had reduced oil production by 5.7 million barrels a day, or about half of the kingdom's output. This amounts to 5% of global oil supply.

The attack sites are home to one of the world's largest oil processing facilities and a major oil field. The attacks are also likely to exacerbate tensions in the Persian Gulf amid the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over a crippled nuclear deal. 

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the attacks, the White House said, adding it was committed to keeping oil markets well supplied.

"The United States strongly condemns today's attack on critical energy infrastructure," White House spokesman Judd Deere said. "Violent actions against civilian areas and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust." 

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, saying there is no evidence that the attacks came from Yemen. Iran launched an "unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," Pompeo said on Twitter. Iran has denied involvement.

The coordinated strikes targeted two facilities in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. The fires have already been put out, the Interior Ministry said. 

Saturday's attacks represent some of the largest launched by the Houthis, who have been targeting Saudi Arabia's gas facilities, pipelines and tankers. A Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim countries has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since 2015 in what is widely seen as a proxy war with Shiite rival Iran.

The coalition launched airstrikes against a Houthi camp in Yemen on Saturday, according to Reuters.

Trump has hinted at the possibility of meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month. But the latest attacks would likely dim the prospects for reducing tensions in the region.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media