Saudi oil attacks: All the latest updates

Tensions in the Middle East have escalated following drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

The pre-dawn strikes on Saturday knocked out more than half of crude output from the world’s top exporter – five percent of the global oil supply – and cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been locked in a war with a Saudi-UAE-led coalition since 2015, claimed responsibility for the attacks, warning Saudi Arabia that their targets “will keep expanding”.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly accused Iran of being behind the assault, without providing any evidence. The claim was rejected by Tehran which said the allegations were meant to justify actions against it.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has promised to “confront and deal with this terrorist aggression”, while US President Donald Trump hinted at possible military action after Riyadh concluded its investigation into the attacks.

Here are all the latest updates:

Monday, September 16

UN envoy: ‘Not clear’ who is behind Saudi oil attack

United Nations special envoy to Yemen told the UN Security Council it was “not entirely clear” who was behind Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, but he said it had increased the chances of a regional conflict.

“It’s not entirely clear who was behind the attack, but the fact that Ansar Allah has claimed responsibility is bad enough,” Martin Griffiths told the council, using the official name of Yemen’s Houthi group.

“This extremely serious incident makes the chances of a regional conflict that much higher.” 

Qatar condemns Saudi Aramco attacks

Qatar’s foreign minister condemned attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and said efforts were needed to end conflicts in the region.

“We condemn attacks on vital and civilian facilities, most recently Abqaiq,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani wrote on Twitter.

“These wars and conflicts must stop and there must be efforts to achieve collective security in the region.” 

Houthi rebels threaten new attacks on Saudi Arabia

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities, threatened to carry out more strikes and urged foreigners to stay away.

“We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach any place we want at any time we choose,” Houthi military spokesman Brigadier Yahya Saree said in a statement.

Trump questions Iran’s denial of blame over attacks

Trump questioned Iran’s claim that it had nothing to do with weekend attacks on a giant oil plant in Saudi Arabia that have cut off 5 percent of global crude output.

“Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their ‘airspace’ when, in fact, it was nowhere close,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post.

“They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?” 

Saudis consider delaying Aramco IPO: WSJ

Saudi Arabian officials are considering delaying plans to sell shares in Saudi Aramco to the public following Saturday’s drone attacks on the state oil giant’s facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Saudi energy officials and Aramco executives are discussing whether to reschedule its initial public offering (IPO) until after production is fully restored to normal levels, according the WSJ. 

Read more here

Saudi Arabia shuts pipeline to Bahrain: Reuters

Saudi Arabia shut down its crude oil pipeline to Bahrain after attacks on Saudi oil facilities, two trade sources told Reuters news agency. 

The pipeline, which carries 220,000 to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Arab Light crude from state oil company Saudi Aramco to Bahrain’s Bapco, was closed after Saturday’s attack reduced output of mainly light crude grades, one of the sources said.

Bapco is working to secure vessels to bring in about 2 million barrels of Saudi crude as a result of the pipeline shutdown, the sources said.

US ‘weighs more intel sharing’ with Saudi Arabia

The United States is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities that halved the kingdom’s production and jolted world oil markets, US officials told Reuters news agency.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how broad any increase in intelligence sharing might be.

But the US, long wary of deep involvement in the war in Yemen, has only selectively shared intelligence with Riyadh about the threats from Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

US, Iran trade barbs at UN nuclear watchdog meeting

The US and Iran traded barbs over Tehran’s nuclear activities as the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference got under way in Vienna

Reading a note from Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Washington “will continue to apply maximum pressure both diplomatically and economically to deny Iran any pathway to a nuclear weapon.”

Saudi oil attacks: Iran denies links to drone strikes

The US last year pulled out unilaterally from the 2015 deal with Iran that promised it economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its atomic activities, and has instituted new sanctions that have been hurting the Iranian economy.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s nuclear program, slammed the move, saying “the destructive behavior of the US administration and the economic terrorism pursued by it against other countries should be condemned and rejected.”

Russia: Don’t blame Iran for Saudi attacks

Russia’s foreign ministry expressed “grave concern” about a weekend attack on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

The ministry said in a statement that it condemns attacks on vital infrastructure or any actions that could disrupt global energy supplies and upset energy prices.

Moscow, however, warned other countries against putting the blame on Iran for the attack and said that plans of military retaliation against Iran are unacceptable.

US believes drone attack not launched from Iraq: Baghdad

Iraq said it had been told by the US that Washington did not suspect the weekend attack on Saudi Arabia had been launched from Iraqi territory.

Pompeo had told Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi by phone “the information they have confirms the Iraqi government’s statement that its territory was not used to carry out this attack,” the Iraqi government said.

The Iraqi statement said Pompeo and Abdul Mahdi had agreed to share intelligence over the attack.

“The prime minister stressed that Iraq’s duty was to safeguard its own security and stability, to avoid any escalation, and to prevent its territory being used against any neighbouring, brotherly or friendly country,” his office said.

Trump-Rouhani UNGA meeting not on our agenda, Iran says

A meeting between the presidents of Iran and the US on the sidelines of an upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is not on Tehran’s agenda, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

“We have neither planned for this meeting, nor do I think such a thing would happen in New York,” spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state television.

Read the full story here.

Kuwait probes drone ‘intrusion’

Kuwait is investigating accounts that a drone intruded into its airspace and flew over the royal palace on the same day the Saudi oil facilities were targeted.

Saudi Arabia: 6 million barrels of oil lost in drone attacks

Media reports speculated that a drone travelling south from Iraq to the eastern oilfields of Saudi Arabia could have travelled over the sea or through Kuwait’s airspace.

Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper said at dawn on Saturday, an unmanned drone about the size of a small car descended to a height of about 250 metres (820 feet) over the palace, before turning on its lights and flying away.

“Security officials have started the necessary investigation regarding the drone that was seen flying over the coastal area of Kuwait City,” it said.

China, Russia call for de-escalation of tensions

China’s foreign ministry said it was “irresponsible” to blame anyone for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabia, given the absence of a conclusive investigation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was opposed to the intensification of any conflict.

“We call on the parties concerned to avoid actions that could escalate regional tensions,” Hua said.

In a similar fashion, the Kremlin warned against a hasty reaction to the drone strikes.

“We call on all countries to avoid hasty steps or conclusions that could exacerbate the situation, and on the contrary keep to a line of conduct that will help soften the impact of the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Iran says Rouhani-Trump meeting unlikely 

Iran’s government said it will not negotiate with the US while it is under its sanctions and urged Washington to return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday that lifting the sanctions was a main pre-requisite to resuming negotiations. Rabiei said that halting all penalties was the “necessary condition for starting constructive diplomacy”.

Last year, Trump pulled the US out of the deal between Iran and world powers and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic republic that sent the country’s economy into freefall.

German FM: Saudi oil plant attack very ‘worrisome’

Germany’s foreign minister sharply condemned the attack on the oil sites in Saudi Arabia.

Heiko Maas told reporters on Monday in Berlin the situation was “exceedingly worrisome”, adding “this is really the very last thing that we currently need in this conflict”.

Maas said while Germany was aware of Houthis’ claim of responsibility, it was currently evaluating with its partners who was behind the attack.

According to the country’s Petroleum Industry Association, only 1.1 percent of German oil imports were from Saudi Arabia.

EU urges ‘maximum restraint’ over attacks on Saudi oil facilities

The European Union stressed its call for “maximum restraint” following the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told journalists: “We see them (the attacks) as a real threat to regional security, and at a time that tensions in the region are running very high this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue.”


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