Attacks on Saudi oil facilities ‘knocked out roughly half of supply’

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Credit: AP

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has confirmed that drone attacks on its oil facilities knocked out about 50% of the country’s production.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told the Saudi Press Agency that explosions at Saudi Aramco’s Khurais and Abqaiq plants caused several fires that were controlled, but there were no injuries.

He said Aramco will make up for some of the losses with oil stocks.

Responsibility for the attacks have been claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The minister said that according to preliminary estimates, 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production were lost, and the supply of ethane and natural gas also was cut by about half.

He said Aramco will provide updated information within 48 hours of restoring full production.

Prince Abdulaziz said the attacks were aimed not only at Saudi Arabia, but also at the world’s oil supply and its security.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the attacks.

In a series of tweets, Mr Pompeo said “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen” and pointed the finger at Tehran.

He added: “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

The attacks come as US president Donald Trump has held the door open for nuclear talks with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and as Iran restarted some uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Mr Pompeo said the US calls on all nations to “condemn Iran’s attacks”.

He added: “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.”

In a short address aired by the Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel, military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones after receiving “intelligence” support from those inside the kingdom.

He warned that attacks by the rebels would only get worse if the war continues.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” Mr Sarie said.

Houthi rebels have been using drones in combat since the start of the Saudi-led war.

UN investigators said the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone likely has a range of up to 930 miles, putting the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in range.