Saudi Arabia oil supply returns to pre-attack levels, says energy minister

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Saudi Arabia has returned its oil supplies to levels comparable prior to Saturday’s attacks on the Kingdom’s oil installations, the Kingdom's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at a much-anticipated press conference in Jeddah on Tuesday.

Prince Abdulaziz added that Saudi Arabia will maintain full oil supply to its customers this month, while oil production capacity will rebound to 11 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of September.

Brent Crude futures fell seven percent, or $4.86 to $64.16 a barrel following the announcement, while WTI Crude fell six percent, down $3.79 to $59.11.

Speaking at the conference alongside the Kingdom’s energy minister, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said that it took the company less than seven hours to extinguish the fires after the attack. He also added that the Kingdom’s oil reserves— which it has tapped to maintain supply— will be restored by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Prince Abdulaziz called on the international community to take strong action against the attack “on the global economy and energy markets.”

He said that the United Nations would be sending investigators to uncover who is behind the attack.

Historically, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have refrained from commenting on specifics pertaining to politically sensitive events as they try to maintain neutrality and oil market balance.

Responding to a question about the source of the attack, Prince Abdulaziz said this topic “should be addressed to our colleagues at the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior… I believe that the government is serious about following up with this. These are sensible international procedures.”

saudi energy minister presser infographic
saudi energy minister presser infographic

Aramco chairperson Yasir al-Rumayyan, who was also in attendance at the conference, said that the company’s upcoming blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) will not be delayed by the attacks and can occur anytime within the next 12 months.

The attacks on Aramco’s key oil-processing facility in Abqaiq had temporarily interrupted the supply of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day - around five percent of global supply - and two billion cubic feet of gas.

“It is clear that most media reports and analysts’ statements regarding inability to restore production were wrong,” said energy economist and managing partner at Texas-based Energy Outlook Advisors, Anas Alhajji.

The strikes on Saudi Arabia have been claimed by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. Yet analysis of impact points of the drone attacks show they were launched from a west-northwest direction rather than from Yemen to the south, senior US administration officials said on Sunday.

A senior US official told CBS News on Tuesday that they have reason to believe that a combination of drones and cruise missiles were launched from Iran.

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition battling the Houthi militia also confirmed on Sunday that its investigations indicated the weapons used in the attack were Iranian.

Oil prices surged nearly 15 percent after the attack. Saudi Arabian authorities had already pledged to use the Kingdom’s oil reserves to compensate for any disruption in oil supply to its customers.

The Kingdom was able to restore a third of its oil production that had been lost as a result of the attacks, according to Refinitiv tracking data seen by Al Arabiya English on Monday.

-Click here for live coverage from Tuesday's press conference.

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