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AFP
September 15, 2019

Drones spark fires at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities

Top Story

AFP
September 15, 2019

RIYADH: Drone attacks sparked fires at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities early on Saturday, the interior ministry said, in the latest assault on the state-owned energy giant as it prepares for a much-anticipated stock listing.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais, two major Aramco facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, but it follows a spike in regional tensions with Iran. The statement added that an investigation had been launched after the attack in the kingdom’s Eastern Province but did not specify the source of the drones.

Last month, an attack claimed by Yemen’s Huthi rebels sparked a fire at Aramco’s Shaybah natural gas liquefaction facility — close to the Emirati border — but no casualties were reported by the company. Abqaiq facility, located 60 kilometres southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, is home to the company’s largest oil processing plant, according to its website. Khurais, 250 kilometres from Dhahran, hosts a major Aramco oil field. Tensions in the Gulf have soared since May, with US President Donald Trump calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute in June after it downed a US drone.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have also blamed Iran for multiple attacks on tankers in the Gulf. The latest attacks come as Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, accelerates preparations for a much-anticipated initial public offering of Aramco.

The mammoth IPO forms the cornerstone of a reform programme envisaged by the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a son of King Salman, to wean the Saudi economy off its reliance on oil.

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