Saudi Aramco has already determined the extent of the damage to its oil-processing facilities - and the associated repair time - following Saturday’s drone attacks on its sites in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, sources familiar with the matter told Al Arabiya.
“Aramco is not a firm that should be underestimated,” one source said, adding that “we are very confident that they will recover soon from this attack.”
Al Arabiya’s sources, asking not to be named, noted that contractors have been called to the scene of the attacks to assess damage and repairs.
The report that contractors are involved, and not other service providers, is an indication that the damage is confined to pipeline and storage unit systems, the sources told Al Arabiya.
According to industry data and analysis provider Energy Intelligence, the company already started to hire local and international contractors to assess and repair the damage, “essentially adopting an open checkbook approach.”
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is set to hold a press conference on Tuesday following the attacks, the media ministry said. Aramco has also asked the energy ministry to speak on its behalf, the sources told Al Arabiya.
On Sunday, Prince Abdulaziz had said that the aerial attacks took offline 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of its crude oil production, which is about 50 percent of the Kingdom's recent output of around 9.85 million bpd.
“Aramco is an incredibly resilient company that builds redundancy into its systems,” said Ellen R. Wald, Senior Fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. “It has always recovered from previous damage (whether due to industrial accident or outside attack) very quickly.”
Wald added that while Aramco’s ability to return to full capacity may take some time, its normal output is likely to be online quickly.
In August, Saudi Arabia produced 9.85 million bpd, according to official figures from the US Energy Information Administration. The world’s top oil exporter kept its crude production below its output target of 10.3 million bpd under the OPEC-led global oil reduction agreement, which seeks to reduce inventories and support prices.
The Kingdom “can typically produce 12 million bpd without issue and is capable of ramping up to 14 million bpd within six months,” Wald noted.
Saudi Arabia’s oil output is expected to be fully back online in the next two to three weeks, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing top Saudi sources briefed on the oil operations.
Brent Crude futures were down 6.49 percent by 10:47 EDT at $64.54 after the news, while WTI Crude was down 6.18 percent at $59.01.
Since the attacks
The strikes have been claimed by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. However, the scope and precision of the drone attacks show they were launched from a west-northwest direction rather than from Yemen to the south, said senior US administration officials on Sunday.
On Monday, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry accused Iran of being responsible for the attacks, adding that the oil market “is resilient and will respond positively.”
He added that Iran's attempt was an “attack on the global economy and energy markets,” and that the US Department of Energy stands ready to release oil from its reserves to offset any losses.
-Fatima Daoui, Al Arabiya, and Matthew Amlôt, Al Arabiya English contributed to this article.