image Photo: Reuters

Riyadh to reinforce security on oil plants

Saudi Arabia has declared intention to further deter attacks on its oil facilities, in the wake of this week’s assault on the heart of the kingdom’s industry this week by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Riyadh leads a military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from power in the capital Sanaa.

“The Kingdom will take the necessary deterrent measures to protect its national capabilities,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

He also called on the international community, which has been trying to end the Yemen conflict, to tackle Iran’s provision to the Houthis “with advanced weapons including ballistic missiles and armed drones” used to attack his country.

Iran has in the past rejected allegations that the Houthis are its proxy, as has the group itself.

The United States under the administration of President Joe Biden has stepped up diplomacy to end the war, and expressed alarm at “genuine security threats” to Saudi Arabia from Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis and elsewhere in the region after attacks on the heart of the Saudi oil industry over the weekend, and that it would look at improving support for Saudi defenses.

Prince Faisal said the main priority is still to reach a permanent ceasefire agreement over Yemen, which has proven elusive despite United Nations peace efforts and talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, who control northern Yemen.

The Saudi Foreign Minister made the statements alongside his visiting-Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a news conference in Riyadh, where he reaffirmed the kingdom’s commitment to cooperate with Moscow in the OPEC+ framework to ensure oil prices that are fair for producers and consumers.

Oil prices spiked briefly after the Houthi missile and drone attack on Sunday, which hit among other targets an oil storage yard at the Ras Tanura site of a refinery and the world’s biggest offshore oil-loading facility.

Saudi authorities claim the assault was intercepted with no casualties or serious damage, while the Houthis insist they scored direct hits.