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Yemen Rebels Claim Saudi Drone Attacks 09/14 08:54

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Drones claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels 
attacked the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a 
major oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco early Saturday, sparking a huge fire at 
a processor crucial to global energy supplies.

   It wasn't clear if there were any injuries in the attacks in Buqyaq and the 
Khurais oil field, nor what effect it would have on oil production in the 
kingdom. The attack also likely will heighten tensions further across the wider 
Persian Gulf amid a confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling 
nuclear deal with world powers. The Houthis are backed by Tehran amid a 
yearslong Saudi-led war against them in Yemen.

   Online videos apparently shot in Buqyaq included the sound of gunfire in the 
background. Smoke rose over the skyline and glowing flames could be seen a 
distance away at the Abqaiq oil processing facility.

   Saudi state television later aired a segment with a correspondent there as 
smoke from the blazes clearly rose behind. That smoke also was visible from 

   The fires began after the sites were "targeted by drones," the Interior 
Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. It 
said an investigation into the attack was underway.

   In a short address aired by the Houthi's Al-Masirah satellite news channel, 
military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones in their 
coordinated attack on the sites. He warned attacks by the rebels would only get 
worse if the war continues.

   "The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us," Sarie 

   The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh said it was "unaware of any injuries to American 

   Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, did not immediately respond to 
questions from The Associated Press. The kingdom hopes soon to offer a sliver 
of the company in an initial public offering.

   Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as "the 
largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world."

   The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later 
transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. 
Estimates suggest it can process up to 7 million barrels of crude oil a day.

   The plant has been targeted in the past by militants. Al-Qaida-claimed 
suicide bombers tried but failed to attack the oil complex in February 2006.

   The Khurais oil field is believed to produce over 1 million barrels of crude 
oil a day. It has estimated reserves of over 20 billion barrels of oil, 
according to Aramco.

   There was no immediate impact on global oil prices as markets were closed 
for the weekend across the world. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at 
just above $60 a barrel.

   Buqyaq is some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the Saudi capital, 

   The Saudi-led coalition has been battling the rebels since March 2015. The 
Iranian-backed Houthis hold Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the 
Arab world's poorest country.

   The war has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The violence has 
pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and killed more than 90,000 people since 
2015, according to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, 
or ACLED, which tracks the conflict.

   Since the start of the Saudi-led war, Houthi rebels have been using drones 
in combat. The first appeared to be off-the-shelf, hobby-kit-style drones. 
Later, versions nearly identical to Iranian models turned up. Iran denies 
supplying the Houthis with weapons, although the U.N., the West and Gulf Arab 
nations say Tehran does.

   The rebels have flown drones into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia's Patriot 
missile batteries, according to Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and 
allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged. 
The Houthis launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia's crucial East-West 
Pipeline in May as tensions heightened between Iran and the U.S. In August, 
Houthi drones struck Saudi Arabia's Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 
million barrels of crude oil a day near its border with the United Arab 

   U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months 
during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 
1,500 kilometers (930 miles).

   That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in range.


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