On Saturday, at about 3:30 in the morning, The Houthis, the Iran-aligned rebel army attacked with drones the two main oil installations of Saudi Arabia.
According to The UN, the Houthis recently acquired much more powerful drone technology that has given them the power to strike targets up to 1,500km away.
Saturday’s strikes would represent a marked increase in sophistication compared to those earlier attacks. Western and Saudi governments believe Iran has been assisting the Houthis to acquire and use the advanced drones.
The explosions set off fires that took several hours. All that terrible attack seems to have caused great damage.
Saudi oil ministry sources said the production had been disrupted by about 5m barrels a day – nearly half the kingdom’s estimated output of 9.7m barrels and 5% of global production.
The US blames Iran for the attack, seeing it as part of a pattern of threats to oil tankers and infrastructure in past months that it says Iran has carried out in response to sanctions on Iranian oil that are crippling the Islamic Republic’s economy.
Abqaiq is the world’s largest oil processing facility, where about two-thirds of the total Saudi supply is refined and cleaned of impurities such as sulfur and sand. “This is the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure,” said Homayoun Falakshahi, an oil and gas equity analyst at Kpler, a Paris-based energy data firm.
A facility of such importance was supposed to be insulated from the wider instability of the Middle East. “Because of its importance it is very well protected, under extremely high-security measures,” Falakshahi said.
The fact that it can be severely disrupted is a sign that the world’s energy infrastructure is more vulnerable than previously believed, and considered a legitimate target.
The president of the US, Donald Trump, said his government is “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to whoever carried out Saturday’s attack, hinting strongly that the US may see it as justification for a military strike on Iran.
Yet any such attack would carry a significant risk of escalation, a chance that Trump has previously been unwilling to take.
Source: The Guardian