TEMPO.CO, Riyadh - Saudi Arabia said armed drones had struck two oil pumping stations in the kingdom on Tuesday, May 14, in what it called a "cowardly" act of terrorism two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The energy minister of the world's largest oil exporter said the attack caused a fire, now contained, and minor damage at one pump station, but did not disrupt oil production or exports of crude and petroleum products.
Oil prices rose on news of the attack on the stations, more than 200 miles (320 km) west of the capital Riyadh. Brent was trading at $71.07 a barrel by 1347 GMT, up 1.20%.
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, in comments run by state media, said the drone attack and Sunday's sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, off Fujairah emirate, a major bunkering hub, threatened global oil supplies.
"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," Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry.
Houthi-run Masirah TV earlier said the group had launched drone attacks on "vital" Saudi installations in response to "continued aggression and blockade" on Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for four years in Yemen to try to restore the internationally recognized government, in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi cities, but two Saudi sources told Reuters this was the first time an Aramco facility was hit by drones.
State-run Aramco said it had temporarily shut down the East-West pipeline, known as Petroline, to evaluate its condition. The pipeline mainly transports crude from the kingdom’s eastern fields to Yanbu port, which lies north of Bab al-Mandeb.
The attacks occur amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran over sanctions and U.S. military presence in the region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that neither the United States nor Iran wants war, adding that Iraq is in contact with both, state news agency INA reported.