Saudi Arabia says weapons used in Ras Tanura oil refinery attack were supplied by Iran

Saudi Ministry of Energy reports no deaths or loss of output in Friday's assault on Riyadh refinery

FILE PHOTO: A view shows the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
Powered by automated translation

Saudi Arabia condemned a Houthi drone attack on an oil facility in Riyadh on Friday, describing it as an act of sabotage on the security of the world's energy supply.

Saudi Arabia also re-iterated its own intelligence findings and US assessments that Iran continues to supply the weapons for these attacks. Last year, analysis from the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen made the same finding.

Explosions were heard at the Saudi Aramco plant on Friday morning.

An official spokesman from the Ministry of Energy said the Ras Tanura refinery was attacked by drones at 6.05am.

The attack by the Iran-backed Yemeni rebels resulted in a fire that was brought under control.

The attack did not result in death or injuries and had no effect on the supply of oil or its derivatives, the spokesman said in comments carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

"The kingdom strongly condemns this cowardly attack," he said.

"The kingdom asserts that such acts of terrorism and sabotage, repeatedly committed against vital installations and civilian facilities – the last of which was the attempt to target the Ras Tanura refinery and Saudi Aramco’s residential area in Dhahran – do not target the kingdom alone, but more broadly the security and stability of energy supply to the world, as well as the global economy."

Later on Friday, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir said that Iran had supplied the Houthis with the weaponry for the attack.

“All of the missiles and drones that came into Saudi are Iranian-manufactured or Iranian-supplied," he said.

"Several of them, as we’ve said, came from the north; several came from the sea.”

The UAE, Russia, Egypt and the United States also condemned the attack, which follows a drone and missile assault by Houthis on the state oil company's facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Saudi authorities said a drone attack on a petroleum plant at Ras Tanura port was thwarted on the morning of March 7, and a missile was intercepted near an Aramco housing complex in Dhahran, about 80 kilometres south, in the evening.

Friday's attack happened a day after the UN Security Council condemned the rebels' cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia and escalation of fighting in Yemen's Marib province.

It said these actions threatened efforts to secure a political settlement at a time when the international community was increasingly united to end the conflict in Yemen.

Brig Gen Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen, travelled to the city of Marib last week to meet the Yemeni governor of the internationally recognised government's last northern stronghold.

The meeting came after one of oil company Aramco's terminals in the Red Sea city of Jeddah was attacked.

On Friday, the Saudi energy ministry renewed calls "to all nations and organisations to stand together against such acts of terrorism and sabotage".

In a statement released on Friday, the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the recent Houthi attacks were a "grave escalation" that threatened global oil supplies and showed the rebels' attempts to undermine security and stability in the region.

The administration of US President Joe Biden on Friday also condemned the attack.

"We condemn the Houthis' attempts to disrupt global energy supplies by targeting Saudi infrastructure. This behaviour shows an utter lack of concern for the safety of the civilian population either working or living near the sites," State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in a phone briefing.

Asked what other steps the US could take in response to such attacks, Ms Porter did not elaborate. She said the Biden administration remains committed to achieving a settlement in Yemen by working with the United Nations and through US envoy Tim Lenderking.