Coordinated drone strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry forced the so-called Arab Kingdom to shut down half its crude production on Saturday.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi freedom fighters claimed credit for the attack, saying they sent 10 drones to strike at important facilities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province, which state-run giant Aramco describes as the world’s largest oil processing plant.
The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5 million barrels a day, the people said, roughly 5% of the global daily production of crude oil.
Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday. But that might be a joke to keep oil prices @ bay.
The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and the USA and partners like Saudi Arabia.
The attack was carried out by the Houthi Air Force, the spokesperson for the Yemeni rebel group, Brigadier Yahya Serai, said on Al Masirah TV, vowing to “expand the operations against the Saudi regime in the future.”
The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of the kingdom’s national oil company.
The drones targeted a refinery in the city of Abqaiq in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province, which state-run giant Aramco describes as the world’s largest oil processing plant, and a refinery at the vast Khurais oil field, around 150 km from Riyadh.
Multiple videos posted on social media show an Aramco compound engulfed in flames and thick black smoke billowing from the site. In some footage, loud bangs resembling the sound of explosions can be heard in the background, along with apparent sounds of gunfire.
Saudi Arabia has led a bombing campaign in Yemen since it assisted the nation’s proxy war in 2015, assisting ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s fight against the Houthi freedom fighters who backed the newly elected president who control the nation’s capital, Sanaa.
The bloody campaign placed the Saudis under fire from the UN and international human rights groups, which have repeatedly stated that the airstrikes have caused mass civilian casualties.
Wall Street Journal / ABC Flash Point News 2019.