Saudi Arabia Says Full Production Restored within the Month

Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 - 19:30
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia's energy minister said Tuesday that more than half of its daily crude oil production that was knocked out by a weekend attack had been restored and that full production is expected by the end of the month.

"Where would you find a company in this whole world that went through such a devastating attack and came out like a phoenix?" Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said about the state-owned Saudi Aramco, which was the target of the attacks.

The state-run company's ability to quickly recover from an attack of this magnitude on its most important processing facility highlights not only its resilience, but its importance as the Kingdom's crown jewel.

The attack early Saturday struck a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude oil processing plant in the Kingdom's eastern region, taking out 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production per day for the Kingdom, or about 5% of the world's daily production.

Prince Abdulaziz said production capacity would be up to 11 million barrels per day by the end of September.

His briefing to reporters was highly anticipated around the world, with oil prices spiking more than 14% on Monday on the first day of trading after the attacks on Saudi Arabia. It was the biggest single-day jump in years due to the damaging attack.

Following reports of how quickly the Kingdom could restore production, oil prices fell on Tuesday. Brent, the international benchmark, was down 6% to $64.89 a barrel. US oil was down 5.4% to $59.50.

The attack also took out 2 billion cubic feet of daily gas production. Aramco, the Saudi oil company targeted, said no workers were wounded in the attack.

Saudi Arabia invited the UN and other international experts to help investigate, saying the Kingdom is looking for an internationally backed response to the attack.

Saudi Arabia also called on the international community "to shoulder its responsibility in condemning the perpetrators" and "clearly confronting" those behind the attack.

The Iranian-allied Houthi militias in Yemen claimed responsibility.

Saudi Arabia stressed however, that the attack did not come from Yemen and said initial investigations show Iranian weapons were used. The Kingdom, though, has not yet said where the attack was launched from or what kind of weapons were involved.

The US has made similar accusations. A US official told Reuters Tuesday that the attack originated from southwestern Iran.

Trump declared Monday it "looks" like Iran was behind the attack on the Saudi oil facilities. But he stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table.

The attack was the among the most serious escalations in tensions in the Gulf in recent months. The crisis stems from President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. He also re-imposed and escalated sanctions on Iran that sent the country's economy into freefall, including targeting its oil exports.

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