Drone attacks spark fire at Saudi Aramco sites

Reuters

Posted at Sep 14 2019 01:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2019 09:20 PM

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. Reuters

RIYADH (2nd UPDATE) - Drone attacks on two Saudi Aramco factories in Abqaiq and Khurais provinces on Saturday sparked fires that the state oil company brought under control, the Saudi interior ministry spokesperson said.

The precise targets and the extent of possible damage were unclear. Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abqaiq, 60 kilometers southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, contains the world's largest oil processing plant. Khurais, 190 kms further southwest, contains the country's second largest oilfield.

Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for the drone attacks, its military spokesperson said on Al Masirah TV.

The broadcaster said the Houthis had deployed 10 drones against the sites, and the group pledged to widen the range of its attacks on Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition fighting them in Yemen.

Tensions are running high in the region after attacks in June and July on oil tankers in Gulf waters that Riyadh and Washington blamed on Iran. Tehran denies the accusations.

The Iran-aligned Houthi fighters have also launched attacks over the border, hitting Shaybah oilfield with drones last month and two oil pumping stations in May. Both attacks caused fires but did not disrupt production.

Security forces foiled an al Qaeda attack on Abqaiq in 2006.

Aramco is preparing to float shares as early as this year as part of efforts to diversify the economy of the world's top oil exporter away from crude. 

It has hired nine banks as joint global coordinators to lead the IPO and has been meeting bankers this week in Dubai as it speeds up the listing plans.