Saudi says oil pipeline attacked by drones

RIYADH (AA): Armed drones carried out attacks on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said.

The attacks targeted two oil pump stations on the East-West pipeline, which carries Saudi oil from the eastern province to Yanbu port, he said in statements cited by the official SPA news agency.

He said the attacks have caused a fire in a pump station, which was eventually brought under control.

Earlier Tuesday, Al-Masirah television, the mouthpiece of Yemen’s Houthi group, said the rebels had carried out attacks on Saudi oil installations, without giving any details.

SPA said Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, stopped operation of the pipeline as a precautionary measure following the attacks.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia said two oil tankers were hit by a sabotage attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one day after the UAE said four commercial ships had been targeted by sabotage attacks off the coast of the port city of Fujairah.

“The latest acts of terrorism and sabotage in the Arabian Gulf targeting vital facilities do not only target the Kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy,” al-Falih said. “These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran,” he said.

Al-Falih, however, asserted that Saudi supplies and exports of crude oil and products were working normally without interruption.

The new developments come amid rising tension between the U.S. and Iran with Washington sending a Patriot missile battery and a Navy amphibious transport dock ship to the Middle East.

The U.S. administration re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports in November after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran, Washington and five other countries.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would resume high-level enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade levels if Tehran’s interests in the nuclear deal are not protected within 60 days.