Yemen’s Houthi rebels allegedly attacked two major oil plants in Khurai and Abqaiq in the wee hours of the morning on 14 September. The move wiped out more than half the oil output of the Saudi Kingdom, and caught the Kingdom’s army and security troopers stationed off-guard.
Despite Yemeni Houthi rebels claiming responsibility for the attacks, US sources have shown that the weapons used were Iranian sourced, with the strikes coming from the direction of Iran, not Yemen.
The attack is the biggest on Saudi Oil infrastructure since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein.
Saudi and US missile systems failed to identify and prevent the valuable strategic oil field. The oil field was compromised by high-tech drones that circumvented air patrol around the area.
What are its effects?
The attacks have triggered the steepest price hike of crude oil in 30 years. The attacks resulted in a loss of 5.7 million barrels of potential oil production per day – nearly 5% of the world’s oil supply.
This stark decrease in supply has heaped more pressure on an already ailing economic backdrop of rising trade tensions between the US and China. Economists have warned these series of events may plunge the world economy into a further recession.
Why is it significant?
The Abiqaiq oil field has been coined the world’s most critical oil facility in the world. The effects of this attack are having detrimental effects on the output of oil for the world.
The attacks are also fresh off the heels of the US cancelling their commitment to the Iranian nuclear deal, widely regarded as a mistake by many European leaders. As such, the strikes serve only to escalate tensions in the region, currently locked between an intense war mandated by the Saudi Government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has also announced that they will be stationing a ‘modest’ amount of military forces in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This comes hot off a recent vote in congress, calling for an end to US support and intervention in Saudi Arabia.