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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Houthi Drone Attack Sets Saudi Oil Field On Fire

A drone attack by the Yemeni Houthis caused fire at an oil and gas field in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s Energy Minister said as quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.

Khalid al-Falih also said the damage caused by the explosive-laden drones was limited to a processing unit of the natural gas processing plant at the Shaybah field.

The Yemeni rebel group had earlier said it was using 10 drones to attack the Shaybah field in what they said was the “biggest attack in the depths” of Saudi Arabia yet, as per a Reuters report on the event. The Shaybah field lies about 600 miles from the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen.

The Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Falih as referring to the event as a “terroristic attack” and noting it had resulted in no casualties and had had no effect on Saudi oil and gas production or exports.

The minister also said, as quoted by the SPA, that “these attacks not only target Saudi Arabia, but also the global energy security of supply and through that the global economy, demonstrating once again the imperative for the global community to confront all terrorist entities that carry out such acts of sabotage, including the Houthi militias in Yemen.”

This is by far not the first attack on Saudi oil and gas infrastructure by the Iran-affiliated Houthi rebels. Earlier this year, the group said it had a list of 300 military targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including oil and gas infrastructure.

Following this Saturday’s attack, the leader of the Houthis said “The drone operation today is an important warning to the Emirates,” as quoted by an Iran-affiliated news website.

Saudi Arabia, in coalition with the UAE, and Iran are essentially fighting a proxy war in Yemen, where the Saudis lead a military Arab coalition to “restore legitimacy” in the country, while the Houthi movement, which holds the capital Sanaa, is backed by Iran.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on August 19 2019 said:
    The war in Yemen is lost. The Saudi-led coalition is, therefore, well-advised to cut its losses, withdraw its forces from Yemen and reach a peaceful solution with the Houthis. This war has been costing Saudi Arabia billions of dollars and the threat doesn’t stop there.

    The Houthis are proving to have a long reach attacking Saudi oil tankers in the Bab el-Mandib Strait as well as military targets and oil and gas installations well inside Saudi Arabia. Their latest attack on the Shaybeh oilfield which lies about 600 miles from the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen proves their capability.

    A few months ago they managed to disable two pumping stations on the East to West oil pipeline known as the petroline. This pipeline is the only export outlet for Saudi Arabia were the Strait of Hormuz to be blocked by military operations between the US and Iran.

    Were the Houthis to attack and disable the Saudi Ras Tannura oil loading terminal on the Gulf, the world’s biggest, Saudi oil shipments could be severely curtailed even without a blocking of the Strait of Hormuz.

    That is why Saudi Arabia is well advised to cut its losses and reach an accommodation with the Houthis in Yemen and by extension one with Iran. The Escalating tension in the Gulf is America’s and Israel’s affair not Saudi Arabia’s. Were Saudi Arabia to join the US-Israel axis against Iran, it will end up paying for the total cost of the war and leaving its economy in tatters.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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