Saudi forced to shut down major oil pipeline after Yemen drone attacks

Saudi forced to shut down major oil pipeline after Yemen drone attacks

/ Policy & Regulations / Wednesday, 15 May 2019 06:39

Saudi Arabia has confirmed that it has been forced to close one if its largest oil pipelines following drone attacks by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels.

This latest attack comes on the back of the mysterious sabotage of several tankers in the UAE. Washington and Tehran have both moved quickly to play down tensions in the Gulf amidst fears the trade tensions between the two nations could escalate into a war. 

The United States sent an aircraft carrier group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region to counter alleged threats from Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed suggestions a war could break between the United States and Iran at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi.

Pompeo said, “We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran.”

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei echoed the sentiments expressed by Pompeo saying, “This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war with the United States.”

Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, confirmed that two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.They lie on the East West Pipeline, and are able to pump five million barrels of oil a day from oil-rich Eastern Province to a Red Sea port.

The announcement came hours after Yemen's Huthi rebels announced that they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Aramco had "temporarily shut down" the pipeline to "evaluate its condition" but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.

He described the incident as an "act of terrorism” that not only targeted the kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy".

Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam tweeted that the attacks were borne out as a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide against Yemenis.

In a statement, the Huthis warned of other unique operations if the aggressors continue with their crimes and blockade.

The chilling statement read, "We are capable of executing unique operations on a bigger and wider scale in the hearts of the enemy countries."


Sabotage Attacks:

Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 in a bid to assist the internationally recognized government’s defense efforts against rebel insurgence.  The 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) pipeline reportedly hit Tuesday serves as an alternative for Saudi crude exports if the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed.

The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in deliberate ‘sabotage attacks’ off the emirate of Fujairah, on the mouth of the Hormuz, on Sunday.

Washington and its Gulf allies did not immediately blame Riyadh's regional arch-rival Tehran for the sabotage, but US President Donald Trump has warned Iran against doing anything to harm US interests.

A UAE government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A. Michel.

No casualties were reported and none of the vessels sank.

An Emirati official said three Western countries -- the US, France and Norway -- would now launch an investigation into the ship attacks along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill.

The Andrea Victory's managers, Thome Group, said the ship's hull had been pierced "after being struck by an unknown object on the waterline".

Asked whether the US believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Washington's Iran envoy Brian Hook declined to comment, saying only that US authorities would help the investigation at the request of the UAE.


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