An oil storage facility in Saudi Arabia was hit in a barrage of drone attacks on the kingdom on Friday, the latest flare-up in one of the world’s most important regions for oil shipments.
State oil producer Saudi Aramco’s North Jeddah Bulk Plant — a storage facility — was hit, according to a person familiar with the matter. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed a series of attacks on Aramco facilities on Friday, sending oil prices higher.
While the storage site targeted in Jeddah is focused on domestic needs, limiting the impact on the international oil market, the escalation of attacks is spooking oil traders.
Saudi Arabia warned this week that crude supplies are at risk, and called on the U.S. to do more to counter attacks from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. With oil prices already over $100 a barrel, the message was clear.
“There has been an escalation — the escalation is targeting a lot of our facilities,” Amin Nasser, chief executive officer of Aramco, said on Monday. “That type of escalation at a time when the market is really tight is a real concern for the world.”
Nuclear talks with Iran — a regional rival of Saudi Arabia — that may end up easing sanctions and strengthening Tehran have added to the sense of urgency in Riyadh.
I strongly condemn the reported attack today on Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure.
This comes at a time when oil markets are extremely volatile and the world is navigating a growing energy crisis.
— Fatih Birol (@fbirol) March 25, 2022
Aramco media officials were not immediately available to comment.
Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted a ballistic missile and 10 bomb-laden drones, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The missile was aimed at Najran, in the southwest of the kingdom. Nine drones were heading toward targets in southern, central and eastern regions, the SPA said, without giving details. Another drone, bound for the Red Sea port city of Jazan, was intercepted later, according to the press agency.
A projectile fell on a power distribution station in Samtah, causing a small fire, the SPA said on Twitter. No casualties were reported. A strike also hit the tanks of the National Water Company in Dhahran Al-Janoub, Al-Arabiya reported. Civilian vehicles and residential houses were also hit, it said.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has suffered regular drone and missile attacks carried out by Yemen’s Houthis on its territory over the past two years.
The coalition began a military campaign in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis after they took over the capital and dislodged the internationally recognized government. The war has devolved into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.