IRAN backed militants have claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the world’s biggest oil plant that could cut the world’s supply in half.
Immense fires were seen engulfing two major Saudi Arabian oil plants, one in Abqaiq, Bugayg, and its second largest oilfield in Khurais, at around 4am this morning.
A staggering 5million barrels per day of crude production was destroyed, according to sources.
This amounts to at least half of the kingdom’s 9.65million daily output which is shipped around the world.
The fires began after the sites were “targeted by drones,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
It said an investigation was underway.
The Iranian backed Houthi’s military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones in their coordinated attack.
Sarie claimed they received “intelligence” support from those inside the kingdom.
He warned that attacks by the rebels would only get worse if the war continues.
Sarie added: “The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us.”
WEEKS OF TENSIONS
First word of the assault came in online videos of giant fires at the Abqaiq facility, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Machine-gun fire could be heard in several clips alongside the day’s first Muslim call to prayers, suggesting security forces tried to bring down the drones just before dawn.
Today’s attack against a Saudi-led coalition comes after weeks of similar drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure.
None of the earlier strikes appeared to have caused the same amount of damage.
The attack likely will heighten tensions further across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over its unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.
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The US Embassy in Riyadh said it was unaware of any injuries to Americans.
Saudi Aramco employs a number of U.S. citizens, some of whom live in guarded compounds near the site.
Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as “the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world.”
The plant has been targeted in the past by militants. Al-Qaida-claimed suicide bombers tried but failed to attack the oil complex in February 2006.
The Khurais oil field is believed to produce over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. It has estimated reserves of over 20 billion barrels of oil, according to Aramco.
There was no immediate impact on global oil prices as markets were closed for the weekend. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.
The rebels hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world’s poorest country.
Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has fought to reinstate the internationally recognised Yemeni government.
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