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Drone Attacks Shut Down About Half Of Saudi Arabia's Oil Production

Drone attacks on the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry have disrupted about half of the kingdom's oil production.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the raids had reduced crude oil production by 5.7 million barrels a day, representing roughly 5 percent of the daily global oil supply.

The minister told the Saudi Press Agency that explosions at Saudi Armaco's Khurais and Abqaiq plants on Saturday caused several fires, but there were no injuries.

"These attacks are not only aimed at the vital installations of the kingdom, but also on the global oil supply and its security, and thus pose a threat to the global economy," he said in a statement.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, with a rebel spokesman claiming the group had deployed 10 drones.

In a series of tweets, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the incident,  saying "there is no evidence they came from Yemen".

READ MOREUnderstanding Saudi Arabia's Geopolitical Mess In Less Than 10 Minutes

"We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks," Pompeo said.

"The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression."

The US Energy Department said it was prepared to deploy resources from the Strategic Oil Reserve if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets. The reserve holds about 630 million barrels.

Smoke billowing across north-east Saudi Arabia as a result of the attacks. Photo: NASA

With markets closed for the weekend at the time of the attacks, there has been no immediate impact on global oil prices.

Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday, while Salman said lost production would be offset through supplies of oil already on hand.

The situation was under control at both facilities, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said.

Abqaiq, located about 60km south-west of Dhahran, is the site of Aramco's largest oil processing plant. Khurais is some 200km further south-west and is home to the country's second-largest oilfield.

The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months.