A damaged pipeline is seen at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Khurais, Saudi Arabia, September 20, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco showed it has made significant progress in restoring its Khurais oilfield to normal operations a month after a devastating aerial attack halted production.

A visit to the site revealed gleaming stabilisation towers, four of which were damaged in the strike by missiles and drones on September 14. While one of the towers shown to reporters remained a charred wreck, Aramco insisted that Khurais is now able to operate at full capacity for limited periods.

Workers at the state-run oil giant worked 24 hours a day to restore supply after the attacks on Khurais and the Abqaiq processing plant disabled 5 per cent of global supply. A trip to Khurais a week after the assault showed equipment scorched and ruptured, with several stabilisation units — 90-metre (300-foot) towers that reduce pressure and remove gas from the crude — burnt out.

Yet Aramco made surprisingly swift progress with repairs, returning production to pre-attack levels by the end of last month. Oil prices, having surged the most on record immediately after the strikes, gave up their gains as traders turned their attention to slowing economic growth and demand concerns.

The Khurais field has a maximum output capacity of 1.45 million barrels a day. It’s now technically possible to operate at full capacity, which Aramco proved by running the site flat out for about a day, an official said on Saturday.

Saudi and US officials said that the drones and missiles used in the attack were made by Iran, though Tehran denied involvement. The incident ratcheted up instability in the world’s most important oil-producing region, where tensions increased further on Friday as Iran said missiles had struck one of its tankers in the Red Sea.