RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that its two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the incident "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies. The attack took place at two stations near Afif and Dawadimi on the pipeline that carries petroleum from oilfields in the country's east to the Red Sea port of Yanbu, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih was cited as saying by the official SPA news agency. Oil prices climbed on after Saudi Arabia reported the incident. US oil prices rose 1.4 percent even though Saudi's state-owned oil company Aramco told CNN that the attack caused "no damage to oil production, no oil spills or injuries". Brent crude, the global benchmark, jumped 1.6 percent. Al-Falih said the assault caused a fire to break out at pumping station number 8 but that the flames were brought under control and the damage was "limited". He added that Saudi oil production was not interrupted. Aramco also said in a statement that "oil and gas supplies to our clients have not been affected by terrorist attacks". The apparent drone strike came a day after the kingdom said that two of its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Blaming the Tuesday incident on Yemeni Houthi rebels, the Saudi Minister said that "they used explosive-laden airborne drones to attack Saudi Arabian pumping stations on an east-west oil pipeline which belongs to Aramco". "Recent attacks in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia are aimed at the world, not just the kingdom. This attack proves yet again the importance that all sides stand against such destructive terror attacks, including the Iran-backed Houthis militants," he added. Houthi rebels, an insurgent group in Yemen, is currently locked into a brutal civil war with the Saudi and internationally-backed government.
Tensions are escalating in the Gulf region as last week the US announced the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier to the Middle East due to threats from Iran and its proxies. The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation denounced the "cowardly act of terrorism and sabotage" on Saudi oil pumping stations and said it was aimed at undermining the safety of the world's global energy supplies and economy.