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Saudi Arabian Oil Pipeline Attacked by Drones - Minister

Saudi Arabian Oil Pipeline Attacked by Drones - Minister

Yemen's Houthi rebels on Tuesday claimed responsibility for carrying out drone attacks on a major pipeline and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Two oil pumping stations have been attacked by drones in Saudi Arabia, Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources Khalid bin Al-Falih said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia's state news agency Saudi Press Agency said Monday the country "condemned the acts of sabotage".

"These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran", Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry.

The 1,200-kilometre pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia's main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west.

The energy minister of the world's largest oil exporter said the attack caused a fire, now contained, and minor damage at one pump station, but did not disrupt oil output or exports of crude and petroleum products.

WTI is trading on a better mood after the OPEC said its oil production decreased during last month, adding that demand for its crude oil is now seen higher this year.

These developments came after the UAE announced on Sunday that four merchant ships of different nationalities were subjected to "subversive operations" near the emirate of Fujairah in the UAE's economic sea.

Four commercial vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged on Sunday near Fujairah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE and a bunkering hub just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the "deliberate sabotage". Officials in the Gulf referred to the attack as "sabotage" but stopped short of implicating Tehran in the operation.

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The team of USA military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened or any proof about the possible Iranian involvement in the alleged sabotage incidents. A video report by Abu Dhabi's Sky News showed the hull of one vessel, the Andrea Victory, appearing to be twisted in one area from an impact at the waterline, though it was unclear exactly what had occurred.

Riyadh said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill.

An Emirati official said three Western countries - the US, France and Norway - would be part of an investigation into the ship attacks along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Noam Raydan, a geopolitical analyst at the tanker tracker Clipper Data, said that the information made available thus far has "raised more questions than answers".

Iran has rejected the allegation and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that "extremist individuals" in the USA government were pursuing unsafe policies, amid a war of words with Washington over sanctions. Images on Monday of the Norwegian-flagged Andrea Victory, which the company said was "not in any danger of sinking", showed damage similar to what the firm described.

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"We are very anxious about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side but ends with some kind of conflict", he said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels. Reports found the port operating normally on Tuesday despite elevated security warnings.

But aside from that, there is the risk of rising tensions in the region.

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