Saudi Arabia has announced that oil production will be restored to normal by the end of the month, as US officials reportedly claimed that the weekend attack on major facilities in the kingdom, that shocked the world and sent prices soaring, came from Iran.
Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday average oil production in September and October would be 9.89m barrels per day and that it would ensure full commitments to its customers this month.
“Over the past two days we have contained the damage and restored more than half of the production that was down as a result of the terrorist attack,” he told a news conference in Jeddah.
He said the kingdom would achieve 11m bpd capacity by the end of September, and 12 million bpd by end of November.
“Oil supplies will be returned to the market as they were before 3.43am Saturday,” he said, adding that state oil giant Aramco had emerged “like a phoenix from the ashes” after the attack.
He was referring to attacks on Saturday on state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco’s plants in Abqaiq and Khurais, including the world’s largest oil processing facility, which shut down 5.7m barrels per day, which is more than half of Saudi Arabia’s production, and represents 5 per cent of global output.
While Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, the US has instead pointed the finger of blame at Iran, as has Saudi Arabia. The US has said the Houthi rebels, who are the subject of a military operation being carried out by Saudi Arabia and supported by the US and UK, were not equipped for such a type of attack.
Iran, meanwhile, has denied the claims, and accused the US of warmongering. It had been anticipated Donald Trump would meet with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly later this month. That now seems unlikely to happen.
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On Tuesday, Mr Trump told reporters: “I never rule anything out, but I prefer not meeting him.”
US media, including CNN, has quoted anonymous US officials as saying the attacks originated in Iran.
Three officials told Reuters the attack was launched from Iran’s southwest, and that it involved both cruise missiles and drones. The officials did not provide evidence or detail the US intelligence they used to make the assessments.
In a sign that some US allies remain unconvinced, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was unsure if anyone had any evidence to say whether drones “came from one place or another”.
Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated since Mr Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions on its oil exports.
For months, Iranian officials issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran were blocked from exporting oil, other countries would not be able to do so either.
Additional reporting by agencies