Dubai: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the attack "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies.
Falih condemned the attacks in a statment saying: "The latest acts of terrorism and sabotage in the Arabian Gulf... not only target the Kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy."
"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.
Falih said Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption, but that the state oil giant Aramco had halted oil pumping in the pipeline while the damage was evaluated and the stations were repaired, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.
The 1,200-kilometre pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia's main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west.
Oil prices go up
Oil prices rose sharply on Tuesday after the drone attack. Brent crude futures were at $71.15 a barrel at 1155 GMT, up 92 cents or 1.31 per cent, according to Reuters.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.68 per barrel, up 64 cents or 1.05 per cent.
The pumping stations targeted lie west of the capital Riyadh, at Dawadmi and Afeef.
The stations located in the Saudi city of Afif and Dawadmi are linked to a pipeline transporting oil from fields in the eastern sector to the port of Yanbu on the western coast, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the Energy Ministry.
The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.
The 1,200km pipeline hit serves as an alternative for crude exports if the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait.
Saudi Aramco in a statment after the attack said that "oil and gas supplies to our clients have not been affected by terrorist attacks."
"We stopped pumping oil in the two damaged pipeline as precautionary measure."
Earlier, a television station run by Yemen’s Houthi group said on Tuesday the Iran-aligned movement had launched drone attacks on Saudi installations, without identifying the targets or time of the attacks.
The reported pipeline attacks came amid spiralling tensions in the Gulf, following a series of mysterious attacks on ships off the coast of the UAE and a major US military deployment to the region.
UAE condemns drone attack on Saudi oil stations
The UAE has strongly condemned the drone attacks on two oil stations on Saudi Aramco’s East-West pipeline. The pipeline transports Saudi oil from the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MOFAIC, denounced the “cowardly act of terrorism and sabotage” aimed at undermining the safety of the world’s global energy supplies and economy. It reaffirmed the UAE’s outright support for the Kingdom and for all measures taken to protect the security of its facilities and natural resources.
The Ministry said the targeting of the two pumping stations proves once again the importance of addressing terrorist organisations that carry out such subversive acts, including the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen. It called on the international community to play its role in restoring legitimacy in Yemen, and to take the necessary steps to deal with terrorist acts that destabilise the region.
Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain slam Houthi attack
Egypt has condemned drone attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels against an oil pipeline and other energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
A statement by the Foreign Ministry says Egypt stands alongside Saudi Arabia "to counter all attempts meant to stabilize the kingdom" in the wake of Tuesday's attacks.
The statement says Egypt is coordinating with Saudi Arabia to face "terror and all threats to its national security."
Bahrain and Jordan also condemned the attack.