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Yemen Rebel Drone Attack Targets Remote Saudi Oil Field

Yemen Rebel Drone Attack Targets Remote Saudi Oil Field thumbnail

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside of Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second-such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.

The attack on the Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 million barrels of crude oil a day, again shows the reach of the Houthis’ drone program as Shaybah sits only a few kilometers (miles) from the kingdom’s border with the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been in a yearslong, bloody war against the Houthis, who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The drone assault also comes amid heightened tensions in the wider Mideast between the U.S. and Iran, whose supreme leader hosted a top Houthi official days earlier in Tehran.

State media in Saudi Arabia quoted Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying production was not affected at the oil field and no one was wounded in the attack Saturday. The state-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known widely as Saudi Aramco, issued a terse statement acknowledging a “limited fire” at a liquid natural gas facility at Shaybah.

Their acknowledgement came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

“This is in response to their aggression toward us and our people in Yemen,” Sarie said.

Al-Falih linked the attack to a May assault by Houthi drones that targeted the kingdom’s crucial East-West Pipeline, a 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) link between its eastern oil fields and the Red Sea. He also mentioned recent explosions on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz that the U.S. blames on Iranian-planted limpet mines. Iran denies being behind those attacks.

“This act of terrorism and sabotage is only an extension of those acts that have recently targeted the global oil supply chains, including oil pipelines in the kingdom, and oil tankers,” al-Falih said. “This cowardly attack once again highlights the importance of the international community’s response to all terrorist actors who carry out such acts of sabotage, including the Houthi militias.”

The oil field at Shaybah is in the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter, a sea of sand where temperatures routinely hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Saudi Aramco on its website refers to the field as “the most remote treasure on Earth,” home to reserves of 14.3 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet.

The site is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from rebel-held territory in Yemen, demonstrating the range of the Houthi’s drones. U.N. investigators say 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 Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.

Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range. The Houthis have used drones, which can be difficult to track by radar, to attack Saudi Patriot missile batteries, as well as enemy troops.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched their war against the Houthis in March 2015 to back the country’s internationally recognized government. The UAE recently began withdrawing troops from the conflict while UAE-allied separatists recently seized the city of Aden, further complicating a war seen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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10 Comments on "Yemen Rebel Drone Attack Targets Remote Saudi Oil Field"

  1. Chrome Mags on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 2:02 pm 

    “Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range.”

    What they aren’t explaining in the article is exactly what the drone does. Presumably explodes but with how much force, what are the projectiles? How big is the drone? Obviously they aren’t going to add to the problem by spreading information that could be used against them or other places.

    As these drones become more sophisticated, could it grind shut down oil operations like SA’s?

  2. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 2:47 pm 

    Iran could eliminate SA as an oil producer in 15 minutes.
    I’m sure this has been explained to the Fat Boy by the military.
    But being bankrupt 6 times, will he care?

  3. Anonymouse on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 2:48 pm 

    Wow, those Houthis are everywhere. In Saudi Arabia. Over 1200 KM in fact, imagine that. I mean, why bother defending their own country which is a lot more you know, closer, when they can send their state-of-the-art houthi drone fleet over 1000 km to start a small unconfirmed fire (with no witnesses or physical evidence) at a small facility of absolutely no importance whatsoever to anyone other than its owner. If the houthis keep this up, in another couple hundred? thousand? years, give or take, the ‘sauds’ will be suing for peace.

    OR, this entire event is complete and utter goatshit(if you are from missouri). A regular fire started at that facility, which is not exactly unheard in that business, and some perception management specialist working in Langley or the beltway caught wind of it, and figured that was good enough to spin out a story in support of the Sauds and their inept attempts to conquer one the poorest and most wretched countries on Earth. And the houthi’s have no drones, sophisticated or otherwise, and you are being lied too (again) by the uS’s ‘free press’. Imagine that.

    I would go with the latter.

  4. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 4:45 pm 

    Asymmetrical warfare, VS symmetrical warfare.
    SA seems helpless to the former. And the lateral is not practiced by insurgents.

  5. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 4:47 pm 

    PS– The US is the major supporter of SA–
    Any questions?

  6. kervennic on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 5:18 pm 

    We should stop sending weapons to Saudis and give more drones to Yemen. Exciting news !

  7. makati1 on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 5:51 pm 

    Saudi Arabia is helpless to prevent the total destruction of their oily business in the first hour of a real war. Refineries, ports, pipelines, and fields would be inoperable for the duration. US bases would likewise be targeted and chaos would reign. It would take an insane person to actually attack Iran. But then, look at who is in Washington these days.

    Another sunny Sunday morning in the land of eternal summer. Glad I’m not in the US insane asylum. ^_^

  8. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 6:44 pm 

    We should stop sending weapons to Saudis and give more drones to Yemen. Exciting news !
    No need, they have all the drones they need.
    Support SA– we can sell them weapons, even if they are getting their butt kicked.

  9. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 17th Aug 2019 9:23 pm 

    Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen

    Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines.

  10. Rick on Tue, 20th Aug 2019 8:31 am 

    The only thing the US creates is weapons and debt.

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