Saudi Arabia says drones hit an oil refinery in the capital Riyadh early this morning, setting fire to the installation
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A drone attack hit an oil rig in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Friday, the Saudi state news agency reported, setting fire to a facility deep in the kingdom.
The attack at dawn did not cause injuries or damage and did not disrupt the oil supply, according to the official Saudi news agency. The kingdom is facing more frequent airstrikes as Saudi-led coalition forces fight across the southern border in Yemen with Houthi rebels backing Iran. Recently, drones struck Ras Tanur, the country’s largest crude oil refinery with a capacity of 550,000 barrels per day, raising concerns about the expansion of Saudi Arabia’s regional enemies.
Details of Friday’s attack remained thin, and authorities did not name the affected facility. Aramco, the oil giant of the kingdom, has a refinery southeast of Riyadh. The refinery produces gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other consumer products around the kingdom’s capital. Saudi Aramco, a state-owned oil company that now trades a fraction of its value range on stock market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The international reference value of Brent crude oil rose to more than $ 62 per barrel. Shares of Aramco fell 0.85% on Friday on Riyadh’s Tadawul Stock Exchange.
A Saudi statement did not blame the Hutas for Friday’s attack. But a few hours earlier, military spokesman Huti Brig. General Yehia Sarie reported that the group fired six drones at an unnamed Aracmo plant in Riyadh, providing no evidence of what he described as a “high-precision hit.” Riyadh lies about 1,000 kilometers (more than 600 miles) from Yemeni soil, and rebels have previously fired drones and rockets at the Saudi capital.
Although attacks on Saudi Arabia, which the Houthis claim, rarely do damage, strikes on major oil facilities in the kingdom, the world’s largest oil exporter, increase the risk of disruptions in world oil supplies. In the fall of 2019, a drone and rocket attack hit two key Saudi oil installations and stopped about half of the country’s oil reserves. Although the Houthis claimed responsibility, both Washington and Riyadh blamed Tehran for the attack. Iran has denied involvement.
A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015, months after rebels stormed Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, and occupied much of the country’s north. Now mired in a stalemate, the war has killed some 130,000 people – including more than 12,000 civilians – and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia has faced international criticism over airstrikes that killed civilians and hit non-military targets in Yemen.
Associated Press writers Samy Magdy of Cairo and Jon Gambrell of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.