Saudi Shuts Major Oil Pipeline after Huthi Drone Attacks

Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oilfield in Texas

US team suggests Iran behind ship sabotage

Drone terror attacks by Houthis against the pumping stations is reminiscent of previous attempts, such as the abortive attack which attempted to blow up a platform and an Aramco oil distribution station in April 2017 in the Saudi port city of Jizan.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said he would not speculate about who was behind Sunday's sabotage acts on four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, near Fujairah emirate while an investigation was underway and due to be completed within days."We need to emphasize caution and good judgment".

USA national security agencies said they believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have been responsible for the tanker attacks rather than Iranian forces themselves. The attack, fortunately, resulted in no lives lost and a spill was reportedly averted just in time.

The Muslim World League and the Council of Arab Ministers of Interior were among the first to slam the acts of sabotage which they described as not only a threat to Middle East and world security but also the stability of global energy supplies.

"Given that almost one-third of global oil production and almost all of global spare capacity are in the Middle East, the oil market is very sensitive to any attacks on oil infrastructure in this region", Swiss bank UBS said.

"With rising tensions between Iran and the United States, and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict", said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments.

Tehran has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over stricter US sanctions, which have cut its oil exports and tightened global supply.

Iran and the USA have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

U.S. assessment blames Iran for Saudi tankers attack
The president appears to want to see a renegotiation of the nuclear deal. No UAE or Saudi official has pointed the finger at Iran.

"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", Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry. It's unclear what impact Tuesday's attacks and any possible retaliation by the coalition will have on the withdrawal.

The Houthis-affiliated Masirah television network revealed more details, saying that seven drones carried out an attack targeting pumping stations in Saudi Arabia. The fire was contained, he added.

They lie on the East West Pipeline, able to pump five million barrels of oil a day from the oil-rich Eastern Province to a Red Sea export terminal.

As a precaution, Aramco temporarily shut down the pipeline to evaluate its condition and was working on restoring the oil-pumping stations before resuming operations, Al Falih said.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite majority Iran are regional rivals and oil from the kingdom was expected to compensate for the decline expected in Iranian exports.

The rebels have targeted Riyadh with missiles and used drones to disrupt air traffic at Saudi airports near the Yemen border.

He expected that the drone attack to trigger more serious reaction from the anti-Houthi military coalition to enter a new phase aimed at eradicating the military capabilities of the rebel group.

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