The Riyadh Stock Exchange, the first financial center of the Arab world, was gray Sunday morning, September 15 in the morning. The energy sector plunged 4.7% at the opening, the day after the attack in Saudi Arabia - in Abqaiq and Khurais - two oil facilities of the company Aramco, claimed by Yemeni Houthi rebels.

As a result of these attacks, the Saudi kingdom, the world's largest exporter of black gold, announced that its production was halved. The temporary suspension of operations at both sites resulted in a reduction in production of 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 6% of global supply. A blow to Aramco, which has almost all the oil installations of the kingdom.

The Abqaiq site was not targeted by chance, as explained by David Rigoulet-Roze, teacher and researcher attached to the French Institute of Strategic Analysis (Ifas), contacted by France 24. "The target in it is of the utmost importance, since it is the largest light (crude) oil processing center in the world with a normal capacity of almost 6 mbj, a kind of mastodon The irony of history is also in Abqaiq that occurred on February 24, 2006, which was then the first terrorist attack attributed to the al Qaeda movement targeting Saudi oil facilities. was nothing contingent and it is a singular echo compared to what is happening today, "he recalls.

Uncertainties in the oil market

On Sunday, the Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdel Aziz bin Salman, said in a statement relayed by the official SPA agency that "part of the lack (of oil production) will be compensated for the customers thanks to stocks "of Saudi Arabia. To deal with emergencies, five underground storage sites, potentially containing tens of millions of barrels of various refined petroleum products, have been built in several parts of the kingdom.

The dreaded consequences on the world market, primarily an increase in the price of a barrel of oil, should not be felt in the short term. But Saturday's attacks are worrying. "It is not known to what extent the production capacity of Saudi Arabia is damaged," said Philippe Chalmin, professor of economic history at Paris-Dauphine University and specialist in raw materials, contacted by France 24. "On also does not know how long it will take for (the kingdom) to return to full capacity. "

On Saturday, Saudi officials told the Wall Street Journal that oil production would return to "normal levels from Monday." But Sunday, the situation should not return to normal before "weeks rather than days," according to a source quoted by Reuters. The only certainty, the oil company Aramco should "provide in the next 48 hours updated information" of the situation, said Sunday the Saudi agency SPA.

"Insecure the kingdom"

In addition to uncertainties in the oil market, attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia raise fears of increasing regional tensions between the various protagonists engaged in the war in Yemen. In this conflict, the official Yemeni government is supported by the Saudis - themselves backed by the US - while the Houthi rebels are backed by Iran.

Washington soon after Houthi-backed Saturday attacks accused Tehran of its state secretary, Mike Pompeo: "Iran has launched an unprecedented attack on the country. global energy supply. (...) We call on all countries to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks. " Tehran has refuted these "sterile and blind accusations and remarks (which) are incomprehensible and foolish."

Prior to Saturday, the Houthis had already carried out two drone attacks on Saudi facilities, on August 17 against the Shaybah field and on May 14 against two pipeline pump stations in the Riyadh area. "There is a proliferation of missile attacks or drones, the ballistics of houthis is upmarket in the targeting," says David Rigoulet-Roze. An estimate corresponding to the statements made by General Yayha Saree, spokesman of the Yemeni rebels, on June 12: "Our database on our targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is growing." The general announced then "surprises" future.

Houthis, targeting Saturday oil facilities, lead "a strategy of destabilization" of the Saudi kingdom, analyzes the researcher attached to the Ifas: "They targeted where it hurts, the oil and the critical infrastructures which constitute the heel of Achilles from Saudi Arabia. " These attacks also occurred at a time when the oil company was preparing for its upcoming IPO. "This is also a way to mortgage the success of this IPO [initial public offering, or IPO, Ed] expected to bring some 100 billion dollars by placing on the market 5% of the capital of Aramco to finance the energy transition of the kingdom advocated by the Vision 2030 plan, "said David Rigoulet-Roze, who points to the" major handicap "that this could constitute for Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to attract international investors more and more worried.