In Saudi Arabia, drone attacks on the country's largest oil refinery have led to a drastic decline in production, according to official figures. The oil production was reduced to about half of the usual volume as a result of the "terrorist attacks", reported the Saudi state news agency SPA, citing Energy Minister Prince Abdulasis bin Salman bin Abdulasis.
However, this is only a temporary effect, which is partly compensated for by the supply of existing oil reserves in the market. The state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco put the attack on volume losses at 5.7 million barrels of oil per day.
The United States Department of Energy announced that it would be ready to "use resources from strategic oil reserves if necessary to offset oil market disruptions." The strategic oil reserves of the US comprise 630 million barrels.
The attacks on Saturday exacerbate tensions between the US and Iran. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran directly, even though Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen had previously claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Pompeo wrote on Twitter on Saturday: "In the midst of calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on world energy supply, with no evidence that the attacks came from Yemen."
We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks. Iran is held accountable for its aggression- Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2019
On the other hand, the Houthis had said that the attack with ten drones had emanated from them. It has been the largest in Saudi Arabia so far - and a "legitimate answer" to the ongoing military campaign of the Saudis in Yemen. "We promise the Saudi regime that our next operation will be bigger and more painful," said a rebel military spokesman.
Smoke clouds spread 150 kilometers across the country
Saudi Arabia is leading a US-backed military coalition in Yemen fighting the Houthis. These are in turn supported by Iran and keep large parts of the North Yemen including the capital Sanaa under control. In recent months, the Houthis have repeatedly attacked oil pipelines and airports in Saudi Arabia with drones.
Pompeo urged all nations to condemn the Iranian attacks "publicly and clearly". The US would ensure that Iran was held accountable for its aggression. The White House said US President Donald Trump had "offered his support for Saudi Arabia's self-defense" to Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman in a telephone conversation. The US government will work to ensure that global oil markets are sufficiently supplied and stable.
The drone attacks had set fire to two refinery complexes in Bakiak and Churais. The flames rose into the night sky, visible to a great extent, causing thick clouds of smoke that spread up to 150 kilometers across Saudi Arabia. The fires are now under control, the government said on the night of Sunday. Injuries among the workers of the refinery did not exist according to previous findings.
The UN Special Envoy for the conflict in Yemen, Martin Griffiths, expressed "extreme concern" over the developments. Such incidents pose a serious threat to the stability of regional security and jeopardize the political mediation process led by the United Nations.