Monday, 21 October, 2019

Oil prices spike after attack on Saudi facility

The White House on Sunday did not rule out a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even after Washington accused Iran of being behind drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities. — AFP Questions raised about whether Iran is to blame for Saudi Arabia attack
Patty Aguilar | 16 September, 2019, 10:25

Global energy prices spiked on Monday after a weekend attack on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia caused the worst disruption to world supplies on record, an assault for which President Donald Trump warned that the US was "locked and loaded" to respond.

Trump also said that there was "reason to believe that we know the culprit", but added that the USA is still "waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed".

Drone attacks on two major oil installations in Saudi Arabia damaged the processing facilities responsible for the majority of the country's crude output, which will have a large effect on the global energy industry.

"Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply".

"We have energy under our feet and off our shores, and this president is leading the way to responsibly develop it so that when Iran attacks Saudi Arabia over 100 times, we are prepared to take action to protect our own interests", she said.

The strikes, which Saudi Aramco chief executive officer Amin Nasser called "terrorist attacks with projectiles", damaged the Abqaiq oil plant, the company's largest such facility.

Before and after satellite images show how the drones, attacking Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq plant and its Khurais oilfield, tore through the facilities - leading to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of the kingdom's crude oil.

Iran for its part called the US allegations "maximum lies".

What is the U.S. saying?

"All American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometres around Iran are within the range of our missiles", the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Commander Amirali Hajizadeh as saying.

Trump also promised to focus on speeding up oil production at in the United States.

Tensions were already high over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal.

"Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg", warned Guard Brig.

The remarks were created to damage Iran's reputation and provide a pretext for "future actions" against the Islamic republic, he added.

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The official said 19 Saudi targets were struck in Saturday's attack and argued that such an attack could not be carried out with 10 drones, which the Houthis claimed to have used.

Also, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday the US Energy Department is prepared to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if needed to stabilize the global energy supply.

Already, there have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shi'ite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a USA military surveillance drone.

State oil firm Saudi Aramco will likely buy significant quantities of gasoline, diesel and possibly fuel oil while cutting liquefied petroleum gas exports.

An attack on a critical Saudi Arabia oil plant has pushed crude prices sharply higher, though they moderated on expectations that reserves will help bridge any shortfalls in output.

Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest producer of crude oil and contributes to 10% of world production.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani accused Washington of diverting blame for the war in Yemen, where U.S. ally Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that has regularly carried out air strikes.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the remarks as "blind and futile comments".

But she added the U.S. government will continue with its "maximum pressure campaign in Iran".

The loss of more than 5% of the world's oil supply - no matter for how many days - is not an internal Saudi matter, she said.

Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi's office issued a statement on Sunday denying the drone attack came from there. The U.S. has also grown as an exporter, and shipped more crude to global markets in June than Saudi Arabia. Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility.

Hajizadeh, who leads the country's aerospace program, gave an interview published across Iranian media on Sunday that discussed Iran's downing of a U.S. drone in July. "We'll see what happens", he said, when asked about this possibility.

Prices eased slightly after President Trump authorised the release of USA reserves.

"Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime's back", Graham wrote on Twitter in the hours after the attack.

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