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Saudi oil depot hit as kingdom thwarts drone strikes

An Aramco oil depot close to the circuit is seen in flames following an incident during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 25, 2022, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Lars Baron/Getty Images/TNS)

An oil storage facility in Saudi Arabia was hit in a barrage of drone attacks on the kingdom on Friday, the latest flare-up in one of the world’s most important regions for oil shipments.

State oil producer Saudi Aramco’s North Jeddah Bulk Plant was hit, according to a person familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media. The facility in Jeddah is for oil storage.

Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels said on Friday they carried out attacks on Aramco facilities with missiles and drones. Oil rose following initial reports of the incident.

While the site targeted in Jeddah is focused on domestic needs, limiting the impact on the international oil market, the escalation of attacks is spooking oil traders. Saudi Arabia warned this week that crude supplies are at risk, and called on the West to do more to counter attacks from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

“There has been an escalation — the escalation is targeting a lot of our facilities,” Amin Nasser, chief executive officer of Aramco, said on Monday. “That type of escalation at a time when the market is really tight is a real concern for the world.”

Aramco media officials did not immediately respond to an email and call on Friday, a weekend day in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted a ballistic missile and 10 bomb-laden drones, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The missile was aimed at Najran, in the southwest of the kingdom. Nine drones were heading toward targets in southern, central and eastern regions, the SPA said, without giving details. Another drone, bound for the Red Sea port city of Jazan, was intercepted later, according to the press agency.

A projectile fell on a power distribution station in Samtah, causing a small fire, the SPA said on Twitter. No casualties were reported. A strike also hit the tanks of the National Water Company in Dhahran Al-Janoub, Al-Arabiya reported. Civilian vehicles and residential houses were also hit, it said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has suffered regular drone and missile attacks carried out by Yemen’s Houthis on its territory over the past two years.

The coalition began a military campaign in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis after they took over the capital and dislodged the internationally recognized government. The war has devolved into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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