Production halted at attacked Saudi oil plants

Smoke billows from the Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq. (AFP pic)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted production at two Aramco oil facilities that were attacked by Yemeni rebels, interrupting about half of the company’s total output, the energy minister said Saturday.

The attacks “resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It led to the interruption of about 50% of total production, he added.

“These attacks resulted in production suspension of 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day,” the state-owned Aramco said in a separate statement.

Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said work was underway to restore production and a progress update would be provided in the next two days.

The Huthi rebel drone attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two key Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, are the latest in a series of raids on the kingdom’s oil installations in recent months.

Nasser said “no injuries” were reported in the attacks.

The Iran-linked Huthi rebels said they launched “a large-scale operation involving 10 drones” on the facilities, the group’s Al-Masirah television reported.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the strikes.

“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo said.

Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Washington, has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying arms to the rebels. Tehran denies the charge.

Growing rebel attacks underscore how Saudi infrastructure, including oil installations, are increasingly vulnerable to the Huthis’ steadily advancing weaponry – from ballistic missiles to unmanned drones.