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Saudi Arabia foils missile, drone attacks near Aramco HQ, refinery


Attacks also on Jazan, site of refinery

Ras Tanura also targeted: Houthis

Iran-backed Houthis claim responsibility

  • Author
  • Dania Saadi
  • Editor
  • Claudia Carpenter
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas Oil Shipping

Saudi Arabia foiled ballistic missile and booby-trapped drone attacks on the oil-rich eastern province near Aramco's headquarters, and the cities of Najran and Jazan late on Sept. 4, a defense ministry spokesman said, in another sign Yemen's Iranian-aligned Houthis continue to target sites close to the kingdom's vital energy infrastructure.

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Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile launched by the Houthis on the eastern province, which led to the scattering of debris across al-Dammam neighborhood and caused minor damage to 14 houses, Brigadier General Turki al-Malki said in a Sept. 5 statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The city of al-Dammam is close to Saudi Aramco's headquarters in Dhahran in the eastern province, while the Red Sea city of Jazan is the site of the company's 400,000 b/d refinery, which is in the process of ramping up. It is expected to reach full production by mid-2022. It had previously been expected to be fully operational at the end of 2019, but has suffered delays.

Aramco couldn't be reached for comment on the impact of the foiled attacks on its operations and infrastructure.

All in all, the Saudi air defense destroyed three ballistic missiles and three booby-trapped drones on Sept. 4, Malki said.

Houthi claim

The Houthis claimed they attacked Aramco facilities in Ras Tanura in the eastern province with eight drones and one ballistic missile and targeted Jeddah, Jazan and Najran with five ballistic missiles and two drones, according to a statement from the group posted Sept. 5 by its military spokesman Yahya Sare'e on Twitter.

Ras Tanura port comprises three terminals: Ras Tanura terminal, Ju'aymah crude terminal and Ju'aymah LPG export terminal. Ras Tanura is also the site of Aramco's biggest domestic refinery with a 550,000 b/d capacity.

A spate of attacks and attempted strikes on Aramco's infrastructure allegedly by the Houthis has raised fears about the safety of vital oil infrastructure in the Middle East.

On July 27, Saudi forces intercepted an attack on Jazan, which Houthi militants allegedly targeted with ballistic missiles and booby-trapped drones.

Most attacks have been intercepted or missed targets, and have not resulted in significant damage or disruption to output.

However, a September 2019 attack on Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq giant crude processing plant and Khurais oil field temporarily knocked out 5.7 million b/d -- 5% of global crude demand -- and threw the market into disarray.

Before that, in May 2019, the Houthis claimed responsibility for a drone attack on Saudi Arabia's East-West pipeline, which runs from Abqaiq in the east of the country to the Red Sea on the west, which serves as a critical shipping passage.