Saudi Aramco oil storage site hit by Houthi attack, fire breaks out

RIYADH, March 26 (Reuters) – Yemen’s Houthis said they launched attacks on Saudi energy facilities on Friday and the Saudi-led coalition said oil giant Aramco’s petroleum products distribution station in Jeddah had was hit, causing a fire in two storage tanks but no casualties.

A huge plume of black smoke could be seen rising above the Red Sea city where the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is ​​taking place this weekend, an eyewitness said.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have stepped up attacks on the kingdom’s oil facilities in recent weeks and ahead of a temporary truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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The coalition has repeatedly said it is showing restraint in the face of attacks, but on Saturday launched a military operation in Yemen, saying it was aimed at protecting global energy sources and securing supply chains.

A coalition statement released to state media on Friday said the fire had been brought under control. Flames could still be seen in live footage broadcast by Saudi TV channel Ekhbariya.

Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said the kingdom strongly condemns “sabotage attacks”, reiterating that it will not be responsible for disruptions to the world’s oil supply resulting from such attacks, the news agency reported. SPA official, quoting a ministry official. Read more .

The ministry blamed Iran for continuing to arm the Houthis with ballistic missiles and advanced drones, stressing that the attacks “would impact the Kingdom’s production capacity and its ability to meet its obligations to global markets”. . Tehran denies arming the Houthis.

There was no immediate comment from Aramco.

The coalition said its airstrikes on Saturday targeted “sources of threat” in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. L2N2VT00H

The attacks took place as Jeddah hosted the Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix. Dense black smoke was visible from the racing circuit, a Reuters witness said.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has told drivers and team bosses the Grand Prix will go ahead as planned, according to a source familiar with the matter. Read more

“ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT”

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group on Friday launched missiles at Aramco facilities in Jeddah and drones at Ras Tanura and Rabigh refineries, and said it also targeted “facilities life” in Riyadh, the capital.

Saudi state media earlier said the coalition foiled a series of Houthi drone and rocket attacks. Saudi air defenses also destroyed a ballistic missile launched towards Jizan, which caused a “limited” fire at an electricity distribution plant.

The Houthi escalation comes as the UN special envoy tries to secure a temporary truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins in April, and before Riyadh hosts Yemeni parties for consultations later this this month.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attacks on the Saudi ally and said the United States would continue to work with Riyadh to strengthen its defenses while working towards a lasting resolution to the conflict in Yemen.

“At a time when the parties must focus on de-escalation and bringing vital relief to the Yemeni people ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis continue their destructive behavior and reckless terrorist attacks against civilian infrastructure,” Blinken said. .

Last weekend, a Houthi assault on the kingdom caused a temporary drop in production at a refinery and a fire at a petroleum products distribution terminal. On March 11, the group targeted a refinery in Riyadh, causing a small fire. Read more

The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The conflict, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

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Reporting by Maha El Dahan, Aziz El Yaakoubi, Maher Chmaytelli, Yomna Ehab, Lina Najem, Alaa Swilam, Yoman Ehab; additional reporting by Abhishek Takle and Simon Lewis; Written by Maha El Dahan and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Frances Kerry, Catherine Evans, Leslie Adler, Kirsten Donovan and Edmund Klamann

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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