Armed drones attack oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia

Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oilfield in Texas

In 1987, members of the Iran-backed Hezbollah Al-Hejaz set arson at a facility in the Ras Tanura oil complex in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The minister also said the incident was an "act of terrorism... that not only targets the kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy".

"This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression", Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam told The Associated Press. It wasn't immediately known where the Houthis launched the drones. -Iranian tension following Washington's decision this month to try to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and to beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it said were Iranian threats.

There were no casualties but Saudi Arabia said two of its ships had suffered "significant damage". Saudi Aramco's oil and gas supplies have not been impacted as a result of this incident.

An image from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. that the AP examined on Wednesday shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 outside of the town of al-Duadmi, 330 kilometers (205 miles) west of the kingdom's capital, Riyadh.

The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.

The UAE Foreign Ministry said that four merchant ships had been subject to "sabotage operations" near the port of Fujairah, but there was neither a blast nor a big fire as was reported earlier.

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.

Saudi-flagged oil tanker Al Marzoqah off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, Monday, May 13, 2019. The other three showed no visible damage from above.

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Meanwhile, it could be that the crude analytical community will have to make do with worrying over Iran rather than the trade conflict between the US and China: in the wake of widespread speculation that a breakdown in talks between the two countries was imminent, Wang Yi, state councillor for China, suggested that Beijing is hoping to reach a compromise: "Both countries' negotiating teams have the ability and wisdom to resolve each other's reasonable demands".

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there would not be war with the United States, despite mounting tensions over Iranian nuclear capabilities, its missile program and its support for proxies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke on Tuesday while visiting New Delhi for meetings with Indian officials.

"We had formerly anticipated that they would carry out these sorts of activities to escalate tension", the foreign minister said.

The United Nations urged restraint from all sides.

The incident comes amid fears in the Middle East that hawks in Washington are trying to provoke a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. The Ministry of Defense said the Mendez Nunez, with 215 sailors aboard, will not cross the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf with the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Arab military analysts have publicly doubted that an armed attack against the ships took place. The rebels have targeted Riyadh with missiles and used drones to disrupt air traffic at Saudi airports near the Yemen border.

He also expressed confidence in Saudi Arabia's ability to maintain its security and stability, according to the statement.

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