Drone attacks hit two Saudi Arabia Aramco oil plants

Pierluigi Paganini September 15, 2019

Drone attacks have hit two major oil facilities run by the state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia, one of them is the Abqaiq site.

Drone attacks have hit Saudi Arabia’s oil production suffered severe damage following a swarm of explosive drones that hit two major oil facilities run by the state-owned company Aramco in Saudi Arabia.

Online are circulating the images of a huge blaze at Abqaiq, site of Aramco’s largest oil processing plant, the Abqaiq site. A second drone attack hit the Khurais oilfield. Abqaiq is about 60km south-west of Dhahran, while in Khurais, 200km further south-west, there is the second-largest oilfield in the country.

According to the local media, the emergency response of the fire brigade teams allowed to control the fires at both facilities.

Saudi Arabia drone attacks 2
The two facilities are located in Abqaiq and Khurais, Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said. (Photo: Twitter videograb | @Sumol67)

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Abqaiq plant, according to a spokesman for the group in Yemen, it had deployed 10 drones in the attacks.

The group is threatening Saudi Arabia of further attacks. The Iran-aligned Houthi rebel movement fights the Yemeni government and a coalition of regional countries led by Saudi Arabia that fights the rebels since 2015, when President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was was kicked out of Sanaa by the Houthis.

“The military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, told al-Masirah TV, which is owned by the Houthi movement and is based in Beirut, that further attacks could be expected in the future.” reported the BBC.

“He said Saturday’s attack was one of the biggest operations the Houthi forces had undertaken inside Saudi Arabia and was carried out in “co-operation with the honourable people inside the kingdom”.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for coordinated the attacks, it added that we are facing an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.

Officials have attributed the attacks to a specific threat actor:

“At 04:00 (01:00 GMT), the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of… drones,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported. “The two fires have been controlled.”

The attacks will have a dramatic impact on Saudi Arabia’s oil supply, it could be cut off 50 percent following the incidents.

These latest attacks demonstrate the potential impact of drone attacks against critical infrastructures, at the time is not clear if the Houthis group use weaponized commercial civilian drones or they obtained military support from Iran.

“The Saudi Air Force has been pummelling targets in Yemen for years. Now the Houthis have a capable, if much more limited, ability to strike back. It shows that the era of armed drone operations being restricted to a handful of major nations is now over.” continues the BBC.

Groups like the Houthis and Hezbollah have access to drone technology and could use it is sophisticated operations. Intelligence analysts fear the escalating tensions in the region that could open a world oil crisis.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – drone attacks, Saudi Arabia)

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