Corrected: Saudi Arabia oil facilities attacked, US-Iran tensions flare


The announcement came hours after Yemen's Huthi rebels said they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

Al-Falih condemned the latest attacks, along with the Sunday attacks against four ships including two Saudi oil vessels near the port of Fujairah, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for attempting to destabilize the worldwide energy supply.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Aramco had "temporarily shut down" the pipeline to "evaluate its condition" but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is likely to raise its production much more cautiously than past year when production from the Kingdom rose to record highs above 11 million bpd in November after calls from Trump to replace Iranian barrels.

Houthis claimed responsibility for the drone attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, but the Saudi government has yet to comment on the claim. The facility otherwise appeared intact, corroborating in part Saudi Arabia's earlier comments.

Iran's supreme leader issued a veiled threat in the same speech in which he stated that "no one is seeking war", saying it wouldn't be hard for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels amid rising tensions with the USA, state media reported Wednesday. In the same year, terrorists from the same group attacked property at the SADAF Petrochemical Complex in the eastern Saudi city of Jubail. A Norwegian-registered oil products tanker was among the vessels hit, along with a UAE fuel bunker barge. The terror cell had received instructions from a Syria-based intermediary in Syria.

"Although crude oil inventories built more than the market expected due to higher imports, prices remained supported due to the geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East", said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

In Washington, Trump told reporters he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops to the Mideast, but he's not planned for that and hopefully won't have to plan for that.

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Notably, the recent attacks come amid mounting tension between Iran and the US after the Pentagon announced the deployment earlier this week of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf. "It is easy to throw accusations but it is a hard situation, there are serious issues and among them is Iranian behaviour", he said, mentioning concern about Iran's missiles and regional policy. "We have been bullied by Iran, we have seen aggressive Iranian actions in the region".

Satellite images obtained Tuesday by the AP showed no visible damage to the vessels, and Gulf officials have refused to say who they suspected was responsible.

The UAE government also said four ships were targeted off its coast.

USA national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have been behind it, a US official has said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that "extremist individuals" in the USA government were pursuing risky policies and that Tehran is not seeking confrontation.

Experts from France, the U.S. and Norway are said to be assisting with the investigation into the tanker attacks.

The Ministry of Defense said the Méndez Núñez, with 215 sailors aboard, will not cross the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf with the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Maggie Michael and Samy Magdy of the Associated Press in Cairo and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed.