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Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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Aramco’s Oil Disruptions Could Last Months: Analyst

Saudi Arabia’s disrupted oil production may last longer than originally thought, Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., told Bloomberg on Monday, with full resumption of oil production perhaps not returning for weeks—or even months.

Saudi Arabia, too, is holding a more reserved position that initially thought, believing now that less than half the capacity at the Abqaiq processing plant can be restored quickly, according to Bloomberg sources that spoke on condition of anonymity. One of the longer lead-time items of the restoration are Abqaiq’s stabilization towers that separates out the dissolved gas from the crude oil—a distillation process that sweetens sour crude, if you will.

Just the specialized parts to repair those towers could take months to get. Five out of the 18 stabilization towards were hit, indicating a “very specific, accurate targeting of those particular infrastructures,” Phillip Cornell, former senior corporate planning adviser to Aramco, cited by Bloomberg.

Abqaiq has a capacity of 5.7 million barrels per day of light crude.

To compensate, Aramco is bringing back online previously shuttered oilfields, and it is drawing on its oil reserves to cushion the blow. What can’t be compensated for by cranking up idled fields and siphoning off crude reserves is being satisfied by substituting a heavier grade oil—but all these emergency measures have limits.

Saudi Arabia’s stockpiles are only sufficient enough to last 26 days, according to Rystad Energy, so if the outage were to last “months” rather than days or weeks, customers may actually feel the supply crunch.

The Abqaiq oilfield was attacked on Saturday, for which the Houthi’s have taken responsibility. The United States, however, has placed the blame squarely on Iran.

Oil prices reacted violently to the attack, sending WTI and Brent crude both up more than 14% by mid-afternoon. WTI was trading at $62.59 while Brent was trading at $68.95 at 2:27pm EDT.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Bill Simpson on September 18 2019 said:
    As soon as the first smart bombs were perfected, around the end of the Vietnam War, defense analysts began to write that nuclear weapons were no longer needed to destroy an enemy's productive capacity. All that is needed, is to disable his industrial capacity by destroying petroleum refineries and power plants, using smart bombs. Fuel shortages went a long way to beating Hitler after the Allies began bombing his synthetic fuel plants. His head war production and logistics planner, Albert Speer, said that the day he was informed that the first synthetic fuel plant was rendered inoperable by Allied bombs, that was the day that he knew the war was lost. You don't win a huge war without a constant supply of diesel and kerosene.
    Today, the destructive task is easier because low flying cruise missiles can do the same thing as gravity bombs used to do, without risking pilots and very expensive aircraft. Enough cruise missiles or ballistic missiles can overwhelm any defense, at least until laser weapons which can destroy them are perfected. That is still years away, maybe decades.
    So expect more strikes on the Saudi oil facilities, probably within a few months. And get ready for a war involving the entire Middle East. So if you have fuel tanks, be ready to top them off at the first 'breaking news' of missiles impacting, and expect to wait in gas lines next year.

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