Last Update 17:38
Thursday, 17 October 2019

Houthi drones hit two Aramco plants, Saudis say fires contained

Reuters , Saturday 14 Sep 2019
Saudi Arbia
Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019.(Photo: REUTERS)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 946
Share/Bookmark
Views: 946

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group on Saturday attacked two Saudi Aramco plants, including the world's biggest oil processing facility, sparking fires in the latest flare up of violence in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia said it had brought the blazes under control, without specifying whether oil production or exports were affected. State television said exports were continuing.

The drone strikes on the world's biggest oil exporter come as state oil giant Saudi Aramco has accelerated plans for an initial public offering to as early as this year, and follow earlier cross-border attacks on Saudi oil installations and on oil tankers in Gulf waters.

Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition of Sunni Muslim countries that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Iran-aligned Houthis, has blamed Iran for previous attacks, which Tehran denies. Riyadh accuses Iran of arming the Houthis, a charge denied by the group and Tehran.

The extent of damage from the drone strikes in Abqaiq and Khurais provinces remains unclear. Nine hours after the pre-dawn attacks, Aramco has issued no statement and the authorities have not reported on casualties.

Abqaiq is located 60 km (37 miles) southwest of Aramco's Dhahran headquarters. It contains the world's largest oil processing plant, handling crude from the giant Ghawar field and for export to terminals Ras Tanura - the world's biggest offshore oil loading facility - and Juaymah. It also pumps westwards across the kingdom to Red Sea export terminals.

Khurais, 190 km further southwest, contains the country's second largest oilfield.

Many Western employees of Aramco live in Abqaiq. The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh said it was unaware of any injuries to Americans from the attacks.

FIRE AND SMOKE

Hours after the strike in Abqaiq, a Reuters witness nearby said fire and smoke were still visible. Earlier video footage verified by Reuters showed bright flames and thick plumes of smoke rising towards the dark pre-dawn sky. An emergency vehicle is seen rushing towards the site.

The Saudi interior ministry spokesman said Aramco industrial security teams fighting the fires since 0400 (0100 GMT) had managed to control them and stop their spread. He did not identify the source of the drones but said an investigation was underway.

The Houthis' military spokesman, without providing evidence, said the attacks had achieved direct hits on refineries at both sites, which are over 1,000 km from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and pledged a widening of attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Tensions in the region have escalated in recent months after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2018 landmark international nuclear deal and extended economic sanctions on Iran.

The Houthis hit Shaybah oilfield last month and two oil pumping stations in May. Both attacks caused fires but did not disrupt production.

The coalition has responded with air strikes on Houthi targets in Sanaa and other areas held by the group, which controls most large urban centres in Yemen.

The violence is complicating U.N.-led peace efforts to ease tensions between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia to pave the way for political talks to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

The Yemen conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.