Saudi Arabia says attacks target world oil supplies

Jeannie Matthews
May 16, 2019

This latest development is ratcheting up tensions in the already troubled region.

Tuesday's drone strikes hit two pumping stations on the kingdom's east-west pipeline, which can carry five million barrels of crude per day and provides a strategic alternative route for Saudi exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz is closed.

Falih said the attack was an "act of terrorism" that targeted the world's global oil supply.

The announcement came hours after Yemen's Huthi rebels said they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

Saudi Aramco, the government-controlled oil company, said that as a precaution, it temporarily shut down the pipeline and contained a fire, which caused minor damage to one pumping station. The stations are connected to a pipeline that runs from the kingdom's oil-rich Eastern Province to the Red Sea port of Yanbu.

Markets have been supported by Washington's bid to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and reduce exports from Venezuela, where infrastructure problems have also cut output.

Riyadh leads the pro-government military coalition in the four-year civil war that has torn Yemen apart, killed tens of thousands and left much of the population on the brink of starvation.

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For his part, USA president Donald Trump said he expects to speak to Chinese president Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in late June and have "probably a very fruitful meeting".

Few details have been released about the incident, which is said to have taken place at about 06:00 (02:00 GMT) on Sunday within UAE territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, east of the emirate of Fujairah. "Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against U.S. and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz", the warning read.

The alert, published on the embassy's website on Wednesday, comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests.

According to Al Falih, the two stations - located in the Dawadmi and Afif governorates in Riyadh - were attacked between 6am and 6.30am on Tuesday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Meanwhile Iran, which borders the Strait of Hormuz, called the incident "worrisome and dreadful" and called for a full investigation.

The U.S. Maritime Administration had warned about an attack by "Iran or its proxies" on oil facilities or vessels in the region last week, said CNN.

Tehran has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over stricter USA sanctions, which have cut its oil exports and tightened global supply.

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