Pompeo blames Iran for Saudi drone attack


Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the drone attack at an oil field in Saudi Arabia which have disrupted about half of the Kingdom’s oil capacity, or 5 per cent of the daily global oil supply.

The attack on Saturday, which was carried out by 10 unmanned aircraft, hit Hijra Khurais – one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields, producing about 1.5 million barrels a day – and Abqaiq, the world’s biggest crude stabilization facility, which processes seven million barrels of Saudi oil a day, or about 8 per cent of the world’s total output, Efe news reported.

Following the attack, Pompeo took to Twitter, saying: “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while (President Hassan) Rouhani and (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

The attack was claimed by the Yemeni Houthi rebels, which Pompeo has denied, saying: “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

In another tweet, Pompeo also called for other countries to denounce Iran in retaliation to Saturday’s attack and promised American efforts to help support the energy market.

“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The US will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression,” he added.

Around 20 hours after the incident, the newly-appointed Saudi Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, was forced to publicly acknowledge that the state energy company Aramco – the world’s largest oil producer – had stopped the production of some 5.7 million barrels of crude, about half of its total output.

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The Minister said in a statement on Saturday night carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that the attacks “resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants”.

Part of the reduction will be compensated for by drawing from Aramco’s oil stocks to cover customer demand, he added.

The statement added that the attacks also prompted Aramco to halt associated gas production of about 2 billion cubic feet per day used to produce 700,000 barrels of liquid gas, thus reducing the total supply of ethane and natural gas by up to 50 percent.

Aramco said it was still assessing the damages and would offer more information of their scope over the next 48 hours.

US President Donald Trump himself acknowledged during a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman that the attack had affected both the global and the US economy.

Trump also offered to cooperate in any way that could help ensure the security and stability of the US’ strategic partner in the Middle East.

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