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Explainer: How an Aerial Barrage Cut Saudi Oil Production in Half How an Aerial Barrage Cut Saudi Oil Produ...
Over the weekend, Saudi oil facilities were attacked by drones allegedly launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen, knocking off nearly half of Saudi oil production, spooking the Saudi stock market, and raising fears of a spike in both the price of oil and and regional tensions. It’s one of the biggest attacks on global energy infrastructure in decades, but it’s still not clear if the damage will be short-lived and easily contained, or if it will weigh on the global economy for weeks to come and lead to further escalation in regional conflict.
Houthi rebels in Yemen took credit for the strikes Saturday with multiple drones that damaged Saudi oil fields and Abqaiq, a key oil-processing facility in the eastern part of the country. The attack on the very heart of the global oil industry—Abqaiq processes about 7 million barrels of oil a day, or roughly 7% of the world’s crude output—made real what had been long considered by Saudi and Western security planners to be a nightmare scenario.
Saudi officials shut down more than 5 million barrels a day of oil-output capability, about half the Kingdom’s daily production, while they put out the fires and assessed the damage; a formal report on the extent of the damage and the duration of any disruption is expected early next week, but Saudi oil officials told Reuters the outages could take weeks to repair.
The attacks follow other Houthi strikes on Saudi oil-pumping stations in May and a natural-gas facility last month, part of the wider, years-long conflict between Riyadh and rebellious forces in neighboring Yemen.
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