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14May 2019

Breaking News: Saudi Arabia reports armed drone attack on major oil pipeline

Breaking News: Saudi Arabia reports armed drone attack on major oil pipeline

Quick Facts:

  • Two oil pumping stations attacked with 7 armed drones
  • Both stations located in greater region of Riyadh
  • Temporary East-West Pipeline shutdown due to fire and damage
  • Fire has been contained, and pipeline operating again
  • Attack targets global oil supplies, oil prices rise

Major news outlets are reporting that Yemen Houthi rebels have carried out a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Aramco East-West Pipeline.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the attack "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies.

Saudi Aramco, the government-controlled oil company, said that as a precaution, it temporarily shut down the East-West Pipeline and contained the fire, which caused minor damage to one pumping station. It added that Saudi Aramco's oil and gas supplies have not been affected by the attack.

Saudi Arabia said the two petroleum pumping stations that were struck by drones are located in the greater region of Riyadh, home to the landlocked capital. The stations, targeted around the same time early Tuesday, are located in al-Duadmi and Afif, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Riyadh city and 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Riyadh city, respectively.

Houthi rebels in Yemen are taking responsibility for the attack. The Yemeni Houthi-run channel Al-Masirah TV, citing a Houthi military official, reported that "seven drones carried out attacks on vital Saudi installation."

This act of terrorism and sabotage in addition to recent actions in the Arabian Gulf target not only the Kingdom but also the security of world oil supplies and the global economy. Oil prices jumped after Saudi Arabia reported the drone attacks. Brent crude futures were up 1.7% at $71.39 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled at $61.86 per barrel, up 1.2%.

Tension between Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran continues to escalate, and this is just the latest incident in a long history of conflicts. Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran, have been fighting Saudi Arabia in their country since the Kingdom launched an offensive against it in early 2015 in defense of its internationally-recognized government, which the Houthis had overthrown. The UN has deemed the more than four-year-long conflict as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Houthis have attacked Aramco facilities before; last year reports from Al-Masirah TV surfaced claiming the Houthis had launched a drone strike on a Saudi Aramco facility in southern Saudi Arabia.

In the U.S., federal agencies have warned about terrorists using armed drones in an attack both overseas and on U.S. soil. The DHS has warned that our critical infrastructures are potential targets for terrorists, and recently released a video on the risks UAS pose to our critical infrastructures.



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