Update 2: In a sharp, if perhaps not unexpected, escalation, US Secretary of State - now without John Bolton by his side - tweeted at 4pm on Saturday, that contrary to earlier reports, "there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen" and instead accused Iran of launching today's "unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply" which has now indefinitely taken offline as much as 5mmb/d in Saudi crude production.
In a follow up tweet, Pompeo said that he calls "on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks" which is odd as not even Saudi Arabia accused Iran of today's aggression (which many speculated could have been a Saudi false flag in hopes of sending the price of oil soaring ahead of the Aramco IPO). Pompeo concluded that "the United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression."
Will this pivot away from Houthis to Iran as the "origin" of the attack be sufficient grounds to re-inflame tensions between the US and Iran, especially following last week's news that one of the reasons Bolton was fired was due to his hard-line stance on Iran even as Trump was willing to sit down with the Tehran regime for negotiations. Since the deep state stands to make much more money from war rather than peace, our guess is that the answer is a resounding "yes."
We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2019
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Update: The WSJ is out with an update hinting at just how much the price of oil is set to soar when trading reopens late on Sunday after the
Saudi Houthi false-flag drone attack on the largest Saudi oil processing plant:
Saudi Arabia is shutting down about half of its oil output after apparently coordinated drone strikes hit Saudi production facilities, people familiar with the matter said, in what Yemen’s Houthi rebels described as one of their largest-ever attacks inside the kingdom.
The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a day, the people said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil. The kingdom produces 9.8 million barrels a day.
And while Aramco is assuring it can restore output quickly, in case it can't the world is looking at a production shortfall of as much as 150MM barrels monthly, which - all else equal - could send oil soaring into the triple digits. Just what the Aramco IPO ordered.
Supply loss from KSA may be as high as 150 MM barrels/month. Oil may hit $100.— Krishnan Viswanathan (@kxviswan123) September 14, 2019
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What appears to be the most devastating Yemen Houthi rebel attack on Saudi Arabia to date, took place overnight on the world's largest oil processing facility as stunning videos emerged of massive explosions rocking the major Aramco Buqyaq facility.
Fires burned into the morning daylight hours, with explosions also reported at the Khurais oil field, in what the Houthis said was a successful attack involving ten drones. "These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," a rebel military spokesman said on Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV.
Saudi authorities — initially slow or reluctant to identify the cause of the major blaze — on Saturday issued a confirmation via the Saudi Press Agency: "At 4.00am (01:00 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," an interior ministry statement said, which further claimed the fires were "under control".
However, the Saudis have stopped short of acknowledging the Houthis were behind the attack, which Riyadh is also likely to blame on Iran, which has lately promised that if it can't export its oil then "no one will".
It remains unclear according to early statements whether there were injuries or casualties in the twin oil facility attacks.
In some of the video captured by onlookers outside the Buqayq facility, gunfire in or around the complex was apparent.
The impact on global oil markets - closed for the weekend - could be significant given the Khurais field produces about 1% of all the world's oil (estimated at over 1M bpd and reserves of over 20BN bpd) and more importantly Abqaiq, which based on the stunning local footage bore the brunt of the drone attacks, remains the most crucial of the kingdom's processing plants.
Located 37 miles southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, it controls all the flows from fields like the giant Ghawar field to coastal export terminals like Ras Tanura. Saudi Aramco describes the Buqyaq facility as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world."
The world's largest oil processing facility has been hit in a drone attack.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 14, 2019
Yemen's Houthi rebels have said they were behind the strikes on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq plant. Read the full story here: https://t.co/PIGqR4cB2o pic.twitter.com/0Zor9f3Eye
Meanwhile, the United States was quick to "strongly condemn" the attack amid already soaring tensions in the gulf after a summer of "tanker wars" and Iranian threats of walking away altogether from the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA).
The U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying, “The U.S. strongly condemns today’s drone attacks against oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost.”
According to Reuters reports the drone attacks will impact up to 5 million bpd of oil production, which suggests that the price of oil - already severely depressed by the recent news that John Bolton is out, making de-escalation with Iran far more likely - is set to soar when trading reopens late on Sunday, just what the upcoming Aramco IPO desperately needs, which in turn has prompted some to wonder if the "Yemen" attack on Saudi Arabia wasn't in fact orchestrated by Saudi interests. 18 years after Sept 11, this shouldn't sound all that outlandish...