Saudi Arabia has warned it cannot be held responsible for any potential shortage in global oil supplies caused by continuing missile and drone attacks by Houthi rebels on its facilities.
The kingdom’s state-run news agency, SPA, quoted an unnamed official from the Saudi foreign ministry on Monday saying that attacks by “Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militias” could cause major disruptions in the oil markets.
The warning came one day after the latest cross-border armed drone and missile attack, blamed on Houthi rebels, was launched against Saudi Aramco facilities in Jiddah, Yemen.
According to SPA, Saudi Arabian officials want the international community to recognise “the gravity of Iran’s continued behaviour of equipping the terrorist Houthi militias with the technology of the ballistic missiles, and advanced [unmanned aerial vehicles] with which they target the kingdom’s production sites of oil, gas and refined products”.
The Houthi attacks could result “in serious consequences for upstream and downstream sectors affecting the kingdom’s production capability and its ability to fulfil its commitments”, he added.
The official said Saudi Arabia wanted to highlight “the importance of the international community undertaking its responsibility to preserve the energy supplies and stand firm against the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militias, deterring their malicious attacks”, according to SPA.
The United States also condemned the most recent attack on Saudi oil and gas facilities.
"We condemn the weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Iran-supported Houthis and will continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a social media post on Monday.
Blinken noted that the "Houthi attacks have targeted infrastructure, schools, mosques, and workplaces," as well and are against civilians.
Persian Gulf attacks
The Houthi rebels have recently ramped up their offensive against Saudi Arabia and its neighbour the United Arab Emirates, threatening key oil and gas facilities in the Persian Gulf.
The statement by Saudi Arabia, in the wake of the latest Houthi strike, sent oil prices higher on Monday, with Brent spot prices up almost 5%, trading at close to $113 per barrel.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has witnessed several strikes on facilities apparently carried out by the Houthi rebels during the past few years.
In 2019, drones were used by the Houthis to attack Aramco’s processing facilities at Abqaiq, disrupting more than 5.7 million bpd of oil supplies.
The UAE has also been targeted recently by drones and missile strikes.
In January, state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) suffered an attack that killed three workers, injured at least six more and triggered explosions at the Mussafah fuel depot in Abu Dhabi.
Responsibility for the attack was once again attributed to the Yemen-based Houthi group that is at war with the Saudi-led coalition.
The UAE, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, has helped arm and trained local Yemeni forces that are fighting against the Houthis in Yemen.
The drone strikes in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi could potentially undermine US and European efforts to improve relations with Iran.
Many commentators have suggested that prospects for a deal with Iran over nuclear non-proliferation have improved as a consequence of the decision by President Joe Biden to ban imports of Russian crude in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
As such, the Saudi accusations against Iran could ultimately diminish the prospect of Iranian crude re-entering the global markets with a lifting of US-led sanctions.
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