Brazen Attacks on Key Saudi Oil Facilities Knock Half of Daily Saudi Production Offline, Place Region on Edge

In the early hours of Saturday morning, two of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil facilities were brazenly attacked and set ablaze, causing a disruption of half of Saudi Arabia’s total daily oil production and 5% of the world’s crude supply and throwing the tense region into greater risk of conflict.

The attacks on Saudi Arabia hit Khurais oilfield and Abqaiq processing facility just after 3:30 in the morning local time.

The strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure follow other smaller-scale attempts to sabotage and disrupt Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Saturday’s strikes were an escalation from previous provocations. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen said that the attacks were drone strikes they carried out, and claimed responsibility for them. The Houthis also said they would strike again.

Abqaiq oil field on Saturday morning shortly after the attacks.

Abqaiq oil field on Saturday morning shortly after the attacks.

However, others believe that the attacks were carried out directly by Iran.

The attacks likely involved cruise missiles and attack drones, a US official familiar with the intelligence assessment told CNN. If true, this would be beyond Houthi capability, according to US officials.

President Trump implied that Iran may have been involved, but he stopped short of directly blaming the country. Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more direct, placing the blame directly on the Islamic Republic, saying there is “no evidence” that the attack came from Yemen. A source told CNN that it is likely the attack came from Iranian forces in Iraq or Iran.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” Pompeo said.

President Trump said the US is “locked and loaded depending on verification” for a possible response.

Iran denies the allegations, as they have in the past. Iraq strongly denied claims that its territory had been used to launch the strikes. Russia has warned against rushing to action until more facts are known.

News of the attacks caused global market volatility. Oil prices soared nearly 20% when markets opened in Asia before retreating. The attacks also wiped out a global glut of oil supply. President Trump has authorized the use of the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve to soften the blow of the supply disruption to the US consumer.

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