Yemen’s Houthis claim attack on Aramco facility after reports of a huge fire

Saudi Aramco logo is pictured at the oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019.

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

A huge plume of smoke could be seen above an oil facility in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Friday, according to multiple media reports, with Yemen’s Houthi group claiming they had attacked an Aramco site with missiles.

The Associated Press cited videos of a raging fire at an oil depot, saying that the location of the blaze was near the North Jeddah Bulk Plant – which is southeast of the city’s international airport. Meanwhile, a Reuters source said that a Saudi Aramco facility had been hit.

The Iran-backed Houthis claimed they were behind the strike with a military spokesperson adding that they had also used drones to hit the Ras Tanura and Rabigh refineries, according to Reuters.

Brent crude rose $ 1.20, or 0.7%, to $ 119.92 a barrel just after the news, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was up $ 1.04, or 0.9%, to $ 113.34. Both had traded in negative territory earlier in the session.

A spokesperson for Saudi Aramco was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

2019 attacks

On Sunday morning, Saudi authorities confirmed an attack on Aramco facilities last weekend, with Houthi rebels using missiles and drones to target at least six sites across the kingdom, including an Aramco fuel depot and a liquefied natural gas plant.

“There were no injuries or fatalities, and no impact on the company’s supplies to customers,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said on an earnings call on Sunday.

The Houthis have carried out thousands of cross-border missile and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia in the years since Riyadh launched its aerial assault on Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis.

Aramco suffered a major attack on its facilities back in 2019, when strikes on the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities cut off roughly half the kingdom’s oil production in one day.

Abqaiq, in the kingdom’s eastern province, is the world’s largest oil processing facility and crude oil stabilization plant with a processing capacity of more than 7 million barrels per day (bpd). Khurais is the second largest oil field in the country with a capacity to pump around 1.5 million bpd.

Those attacks in 2019 were the biggest on Saudi oil infrastructure since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when the Iraqi military fired scud missiles into the kingdom.

—CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this article.

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