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Saudis Scramble To Restore 1/3 Of Disrupted Oil Production Today

Saudi energy giant Aramco said it would have a third of the oil production disrupted in the Saturday drone attacks restored by the end of the day today, MarketWatch reports, adding the full restoration of normal production rates will take several weeks, according to sources familiar with the extent of the damage.

The attack, which roiled oil markets and pushed Brent above $66 a barrel, took place on Saturday. Initial reports, including a statement by a spokesman for the Houthi rebels who took responsibility for the attack, said they had used drones. Now, MarketWatch has cited unnamed sources as saying Aramco has determined the attacks involved missiles.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already blamed the attacks on Iran, saying there was no evidence they came from Yemen. CNN quoted a Washington official as saying satellite imagery showing the strikes had come from the northwest, which suggested Iraq or Iran as the launching point.

Iran has denied the accusation. "Such blind accusations and inappropriate comments in a diplomatic context are incomprehensible and meaningless,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said. “Even hostility needs a certain degree of credibility and reasonable frameworks, US officials have also violated these basic principles."

The Saturday attacks caused a fire at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and a production outage at the Khurais field, taking 5.7 million bpd in daily production offline.

“We should be able to have 2 million barrels a day back online…by tomorrow,” one of the MarketWatch sources said on Sunday. On Tuesday, Aramco will issue a progress update, chief executive Amin Nasser said.

The attack caused an unsurprising spike in oil prices, with Brent jumping close to $70 a barrel before retreating when trade started in Asia on Monday. At the time of writing, the international benchmark traded at $66.19 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate was changing hands for $59.62 a barrel at the time of writing.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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