Attacks on Saudi oil facilities cut half of kingdom’s capacity, raise global concerns

RIYADH, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) — Drone attacks on two Saudi Arabian oil production facilities on Saturday have halted about half of the supplies from the world’s top exporter and raised global concerns over oil supplies.

A “10-drone attack,” for which Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, targeted Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco’s facilities in Abqaiq in Eastern Province and the Hijrat Khurais oilfield on Saturday.

Aramco’s industrial security teams controlled and extinguished the fire before the flames spread.

The attacks resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations,” Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said Sunday in a statement.

After Saturday’s attacks, Saudi Arabia saw production cut by 5.7 million barrels a day, according to Aramco.

The country’s total production hovers around 10 million barrels per day, with an average of 9.85 million barrels per day in August, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show.

An investigation has been launched, according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.

The international community has voiced its condemnation of the attacks and concerns over the oil supply.

On Saturday afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, discussing the attacks and Saudi Arabia’s self-defense, according to the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran on Saturday, saying “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, in a phone call with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, expressed his condemnation of the drone attack, saying “the national security of Jordan and Saudi Arabia is one.”

“The security of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Saudi Arabia is inseparable. Any threat to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seen as a threat to the stability and security of the UAE,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates said in a statement.

The Houthis have recently stepped up drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, but most of the drones were intercepted by the kingdom’s air defense systems.

On Aug. 17, Saudi Arabia said that a Houthi drone attack on its Aramco plant in Shaybah Oil Field caused a minor fire.

In May, a Houthi drone attack damaged two oil pump stations of Saudi Aramco, according to the Saudi authorities.

“We promise to widen our attacks as long as the Saudi regime’s aggression and economic blockade against our country continue,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea was quoted as saying after Saturday’s attacks.

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