In this file photo taken on Jan 9, 2019, Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Faleh speaks at a press conference at the APSARC King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in the capital Riyadh. (FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)
RIYADH/DUBAI - Saudi Arabia said armed drones had struck two oil pumping stations in the kingdom on Tuesday in what it called a “cowardly” act of terrorism two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The energy minister of the world’s largest oil exporter said the attack caused a fire, now contained, and minor damage at one pump station, but did not disrupt oil production or exports of crude and petroleum products.
The energy minister said the attack caused a fire, now contained, and minor damage at one pump station, but did not disrupt oil production or exports of crude and petroleum products
Oil prices spiked on news of the attack on the stations, more than 320 km west of the capital Riyadh. Brent crude futures rose 1.38 percent to trade at US$71.20 by 1114 GMT.
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, in comments run by state media, said the drone attack and Sunday’s sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, off Fujairah emirate, a major bunkering hub, threatened global oil supplies.
“These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran,” Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry.
Houthi-run Masirah TV earlier said the group had launched drone attacks on “vital” Saudi installations in response to “continued aggression and blockade” on Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for four years in Yemen to try to restore the internationally recognized government, in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi cities, but two Saudi sources told Reuters this was the first time an Aramco facility was hit by drones.
State-run Aramco said it had temporarily shut down the East-West pipeline, known as Petroline, to evaluate its condition
State-run Aramco said it had temporarily shut down the East-West pipeline, known as Petroline, to evaluate its condition. The pipeline mainly transports crude from the kingdom’s eastern fields to Yanbu port, which lies north of Bab al-Mandeb.
The attacks occur amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran over sanctions and US military presence in the region.
IRAN IN FOCUS
The UAE has not revealed details about the nature of the attack on ships near Fujairah port, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, or blamed any party or country.
Iran was a prime suspect in the sabotage on Sunday although Washington had no conclusive proof, a US official familiar with American intelligence said on Monday.
Iran has denied involvement and described the attack on the four commercial vessels as “worrisome and dreadful”. It has called for an investigation.
The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia said Washington should take what he called “reasonable responses short of war” after it had determined who was behind the attacks near Fujairah.
HONG KONG NEWS