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Saudi Arabia says Ras Tanura oil export hub undamaged by Houthi attack

Highlights

Ras Tanura tank farm, Dhahran residential compound targeted

Ras Tanura terminal can store 33 million barrels of crude

Saudi Arabia and its oil facilities frequent Houthi target

Dubai — Saudi Arabia said its largest oil export terminal at Ras Tanura in the Persian Gulf has emerged unscathed after being targeted in a March 7 drone attack in a series of strikes allegedly launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.

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The Saudi energy ministry said a petroleum tank farm at its Ras Tanura port was attacked in the morning by a drone from the sea, and later in the evening, shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell near a Saudi Aramco residential compound in Dhahran, where the state oil giant is headquartered.

Ras Tanura port comprises three terminals: Ras Tanura terminal, Ju'aymah crude terminal and Ju'aymah LPG export terminal. The Ras Tanura crude terminal has a 33 million barrels of storage capacity. All of Saudi Arabia's key crude oil grades -- mainly Arab Heavy, Arab Medium, Arab Light and Arab Extra Light -- load from here along with condensate and refined products.

The attacks come as oil prices continue to climb following the OPEC+ decision last week to rollover supply cuts and recovering demand. Brent crude is pushing towards a new level of $70/b. S&P Global Platts Analytics sees strong support for Dated Brent prices trading around the $65-70/b range, with risk to the upside in Q3 before easing by end-2021.

Neither of the facilities targeted suffered any injuries, loss of life, or property damage, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

"Such acts of sabotage not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy," the ministry said.

Saudi Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company has been a frequent target for Houthi attacks -- which have escalated in recent months -- under a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are on opposing sides of Yemen's civil war.

The most notable occurred in September 2019, when Aramco's critical Abqaiq crude processing plant and Khurais oil field were hit, temporarily knocking out 5.7 million b/d of production -- almost 6% of global crude demand -- throwing the oil market into disarray. However, it took just 10 days for Aramco to carry out sufficient repairs for the company's total output to recover to 10 million b/d.

More recently, on March 4, Saudi Arabia was subject to several missile attacks, with Houthis claiming they had managed to hit Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah.