USA locked and loaded for response to attack on Saudis

Tuesday, 17 Sep, 2019

However, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo blamed Tehran for the attack.

Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as "the largest crude oil stabilisation plant in the world".

Following the drone attacks, Saudi Arabia temporarily cut its oil production from its two oil facilities run by the Saudi Aramco, which corresponds to almost two million barrels per day.

Pompeo said there was no evidence the attack came from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for over four years in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between rivals Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran. As markets closely watch the OPEC kingpin's ability to get its industry back on track, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said that "work is underway" to restore full production. The reduction will go on for at least 48 hours reports said.

Egypt has strongly condemned the terrorist attack that targeted two Aramco plants in Abqaiq province and the Khurais migration in Saudi Arabia by the Houthi militia.

The Saudi Arabia stock market dropped three percent at the start of trading on Sunday, the first session after drone attacks on two major oil facilities on Saturday. They also increased overall tensions in the region amid an escalating crisis between the USA and Iran over Tehran's unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.

The minister told the Saudi Press Agency that explosions at Saudi Armaco's Khurais and Abqaiq plants on Saturday caused several fires, but there were no injuries.

Hajizadeh, the brigadier general who leads the country's aerospace program, said in an interview published across Iranian media Sunday that Revolutionary Guard forces were ready for a counterattack if America responded, naming the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as immediate targets, as well as U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

Brent oil, the global benchmark, jumped more than 19% when markets opened Monday. Riyadh has built five giant underground storage facilities in various parts of the country that can hold tens of millions of barrels of various refined petroleum products, to be tapped during times of crisis. On Friday, Brent crude traded at $60.22 a barrel. Saudi officials say the blazes are now under control, but that production has stopped.

Taking to Twitter, Pompeo said, "Tehran is behind almost 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while (President Hassan) Rouhani and (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy".

Riyadh has accused Iran and its proxies of being behind previous attacks on oil pumping stations and the Shaybah oilfield, charges Tehran denies.

President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer his support for the kingdom's defence, the White House said. Have the Houthis simply weaponised commercial civilian drones or have they had significant assistance from Iran?