A global economic asset. Photographer: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
State energy producer Saudi Aramco lost about 5.7 million barrels per day of output on Saturday after 10 unmanned aerial vehicles struck the world’s biggest crude-processing facility in Abqaiq and the kingdom’s second-biggest oil field in Khurais.
The disruption surpasses the loss of Kuwaiti and Iraqi petroleum output in August 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbor. It also exceeds the loss of Iranian oil production in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution, according to the International Energy Agency.
“The vulnerability of Saudi infrastructure to attacks, historically seen as a stable source of crude to the market, is a new paradigm the market will need to deal with,” said Virendra Chauhan, a Singapore-based analyst.
Saudi Arabia can restart a significant volume of the halted oil production within days, but needs weeks to restore full output capacity, people familiar with the matter said. That would rattle oil markets further and cast a shadow on Aramco’s preparations for what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering.