Aramco now focused on restoring production

Company tells Indian refinery there will be no immediate impact on oil supplies

A picture taken on Sunday shows an Aramco oil facility near Al-Khurj area, just south of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia raced today to restart operations at oil plants hit by drone attacks which slashed its production by half. — AFP

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has pledged to use its oil reserves to compensate for the disruption of supply for its customers after Saturday's attacks on Saudi Aramco's oil facilities, while global condemnation of the attacks continued.

The latest attacks on the Kingdom's oil facilities in the Eastern Province resulted in the halt of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of crude oil supplies, or about 50 percent of Aramco’s production, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman said on Sunday.

The attacks also caused a halt in associated gas production of about two billion cubic feet per day, he confirmed in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The minister said the attacks, however, did not have any impact on the supply of electricity and water supplies from the fuel, or on the supply of the domestic market of hydrocarbons.

Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said that the company is currently working on recovering the quantities of production lost due to the temporary shutdowns following the attack. He added that a progress update would be provided in the next 48 hours.

Aramco has lost half of its production capacity after attacks on its facilities on Saturday and it remains unclear how long it will take the company to fix the damage.

Though production was halted briefly at the two Aramco oil facilities that were attacked, the oil giant told one Indian refinery there will be no immediate impact on oil supplies as it will deliver crude from other sources and had adequate inventory, a source with the refinery said on Sunday.

Following the attack on Saudi Aramco’s facilities, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said earlier on Saturday that oil markets are “well supplied with ample commercial stock.”

"The IEA is monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia closely. We are in contact with Saudi authorities as well as major producer and consumer nations. For now, markets are well supplied with ample commercial stocks."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday condemned the drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and called on those involved to prevent escalation.

"The Secretary-General condemns Saturday’s attacks on Aramco oil facilities in the Eastern Province in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia claimed by the Houthis," according to a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"The Secretary-General calls upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint, prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions and to comply at all times with International Humanitarian Law."

France too condemned attacks on Saudi oil facilities that have disrupted global production, the country's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

"France firmly condemns yesterday's attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil installations," the ministry said in a statement that also expressed "complete solidarity" with Saudi Arabia.

"These actions can only worsen regional tensions and risk of conflict," the French statement added. "It is imperative that they stop."

The European Union too warned on Sunday of a "real threat to regional security" in the Middle East after attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting global energy supplies.

"Yesterday's attack by drones on two Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia poses a real threat to regional security," a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

"At a time when tensions in the region are running high, this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue," she said, calling for "maximum restraint and de-escalation" but without going into further details.

Also, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday the US Energy Department is prepared to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if needed to stabilize the global energy supply.

The Kingdom is now focused on restoring production at the plants, and Aramco has said it will dip into its reserves to offset the disruption. Prince Abdulaziz said part of the drop would be offset by drawing on vast storage facilities designed to be tapped in times of crisis.

As markets closely watch Saudi Arabia's ability to get its industry back on track, Aramco CEO said Saturday that "work is under way" to restore full production. — Agencies