On March 7, 2021, Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired 14 drones and eight ballistic missiles at the facilities of oil firm Saudi Aramco in Ras Tanura and at military targets in the Saudi cities of Dammam, Asir, and Jazan, the Houthi military spokesman said.
The Saudi energy ministry said an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura, the site of an oil refinery and the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility, was attacked with a drone coming from the sea that was intercepted and destroyed prior to reaching its target.
Ras Tanura is the world’s largest oil terminal, capable of exporting roughly 6.5 million barrels a day, nearly 7 % of oil demand, and as such is heavily protected. The port includes a large storage tank farm where crude oil is kept before it is pumped into super-tankers.
Shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell near a residential compound in Dhahran used by state-controlled Saudi Aramco.
“Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on state media.
The sites attacked on Sunday lie on the Gulf coast in Eastern Province, home to most of Aramco’s production and export facilities. In 2019, Saudi Arabia the world’s top oil exporter was shaken by a big missile and drone attack on oil installations near the facilities hit on Sunday, which Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies.
The Houthis recently stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia at a time when the US and the UN are pushing for a ceasefire to revive stalled political negotiations to end the war.
The military alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from power in the capital, Sanaa. The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Colonel al-MALKI the spokesman of the Saudi defence ministry and of the Saudi-led military coalition, said that the ministry would take “all necessary, deterrent measures to safeguard its national assets”.
In February 2021, US President BIDEN declared a halt to U.S. support for offensive operations by the coalition but said the United States would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself.
Brent crude futures surged above $70 a barrel on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The US crude touched its highest in more than two years, following reports of attacks on Saudi Arabian facilities.
Brent crude futures for May hit $71.38 a barrel in early Asian trade, the highest since January 8, 2020, and were at $71.11 a barrel by 02:55 GMT, up to $1.75, or 2.5 %.
ING analysts said in a report: “We could see further upside in the market in the near-term, particularly as the market probably now needs to be pricing in some sort of risk premium, with these attacks picking up in frequency”.
Brent and WTI prices are up for the fourth consecutive session after OPEC and its allies decided to keep production cuts largely unchanged in April 2020.
This article was edited using the data from the Aljazeera.com, Reuters.com, Financialpost.com, and Timesofindia.indiatimes.com.