Saudi halts pumping at main pipeline after drone attack
Saudi Arabia said it had stopped pumping crude oil along a major pipeline Tuesday (May 14th) following a drone attack, hours after the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) in Yemen said they had targeted vital Saudi installations, AFP reported.
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said two pumping stations on the pipeline from the oil-rich Eastern Province to the Red Sea had been targeted early Tuesday.
The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.
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.
"The company (Saudi Aramco) is working on restoring the pumping station before resuming operations," he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
The 1,200-kilometre pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia's main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west.
It was created several decades ago as an alternative for Saudi crude exports if the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the US.
The pumping stations reportedly targeted lie west of the capital Riyadh, at Dawadmi and Afeef.
The Houthis said Tuesday they had attacked several vital Saudi targets with drones.
The reported pipeline attacks came amid spiralling tensions in the Gulf, following a series of mysterious attacks on ships off the coast of the UAE and a major US military deployment to the region.
"The latest acts of terrorism and sabotage in the Arabian Gulf... not only target the kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy," al-Falih said.
"These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran," he said.