Washington / Riyadh (dpa) - The drone strikes on the largest oil refinery in Saudi Arabia exacerbate tensions between the US and Iran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran directly, even though the Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen had previously claimed responsibility for the attacks. The huge flames in two refinery complexes of the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco led according to his data to a drastic slump in production.
Pompeo wrote on Twitter: "In the midst of calls for de-escalation, Iran has now committed an unprecedented attack on world energy supply. There is no evidence that the attacks came from Yemen. "
On the other hand, the Houthis had said that the attack with ten drones had emanated from them. It has been the largest in Saudi Arabia so far - and a "legitimate answer" to the continuing military campaign of the Saudis in Yemen. "We promise the Saudi regime that our next operation will be bigger and more painful," a rebels military spokesman said.
Saudi Arabia is leading a US-backed military coalition in Yemen fighting the Houthis. These are in turn supported by Iran and keep large parts of the North Yemen including the capital Sanaa under control. In recent months, the Houthis have repeatedly attacked oil pipelines and airports in Saudi Arabia with drones.
Pompeo urged all nations to condemn the Iranian attacks "publicly and clearly". The US would ensure that Iran was held accountable for its aggression. The White House said that US President Donald Trump had offered Saudi Arabia's "self-defense support" to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in a telephone conversation. The US government will work to ensure that global oil markets are sufficiently supplied and stable.
The "terrorist attacks" on Saturday morning have caused oil production to fall to half the usual volume, according to the Saudi state news agency SPA, citing the Ministry of Energy. However, this is only a temporary effect, which is partly offset by the supply of existing oil reserves in the market. Saudi Aramco put the attack-related volume loss at 5.7 million barrels per day.
The drone attacks had set fire to two refinery complexes in Bakiak and Churais. The flames rose into the night sky, visible to a great extent, causing thick clouds of smoke that spread up to 150 kilometers across Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the fires are under control, the government said on the night of Sunday. Injuries among the workers of the refinery did not exist according to previous findings.
Bakiak is located approximately 330 kilometers northeast of the Saudi capital Riyadh. According to Saudi Aramco, the complex is the Group's largest oil refinery. In Churais is one of the largest oil fields in Saudi Arabia.
The UN Special Envoy for the conflict in Yemen, Martin Griffiths, expressed "extreme concern" over the developments. Such incidents pose a serious threat to the stability of regional security and jeopardize the political mediation process led by the United Nations.
Message Saudi Aramco
Yemeni television station al-Masirah
Message UN Special Envoy to Yemen