Yemeni rebels claim new drone attacks on Saudi Aramco

Mohammed Hatem and Javier Blas 1/29/2020

DUBAI (Bloomberg) - Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed that they launched attacks with missiles and drones on Saudi Aramco in the kingdom’s southern Jazan region.

The rebels also targeted Abha and Jazan airports as well as Khamis Mushait base and other key targets inside Saudi Arabia in response to air strikes on Yemen, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said on television. He didn’t give a date or more details on the attacks.

Saudi Aramco declined to comment, but a Saudi oil official said that all the Houthis’ missiles were intercepted. The official asked not to be identified for lack of authorization to speak to media.

Brent crude futures pared gains after surging as much as 1.9%. The benchmark grade was trading 25 cents higher at $59.76 a barrel at 2:41 p.m. in London.

Aerial Attacks. Jazan is the site of a 400,000-barrels-a-day Saudi Aramco refinery, but the city, near the border with Yemen, isn’t home to crude oil production facilities or major export terminals. The Jazan refinery and petrochemical complex is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2020, Aramco said at the time of its initial public offering last year.

The Iran-backed Houthis have been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015, a war that has regularly sent tensions in the Gulf soaring. They have repeatedly claimed responsibility for attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, most notably the Sept. 14 aerial attacks that temporarily paralyzed half of the kingdom’s production capacity. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia, however, said Iran was behind that assault.

The Houthis have launched hundreds of missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia since 2015. However few of them have caused casualties or major damage to infrastructure.

The Houthi attacks appeared to halt at the end of last year as momentum grew behind efforts to end the war, which sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and brought Yemen to the brink of famine. The U.S. supports efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict, and in November, Omani Foreign Minister Yousef Bin Alawi, whose country is facilitating talks between the sides, said he’s optimistic that Saudi Arabia and the Houthis could reach an agreement.

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