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Saudi Arabia says oil facility attacks target world supplies

AFP  |  Riyadh 

Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, said Wednesday that attacks on two of its tankers and a major pipeline targeted the security of global

Drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels shut down one of the kingdom's on Tuesday, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of four ships, two of them Saudi tankers, on Sunday.

"The cabinet affirms that these acts of terrorism and sabotage ... do not only target the kingdom but also the security of world and the global economy," it said after a meeting chaired by in the Red Sea city of on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday's drone strikes hit two pumping stations on the kingdom's east-west pipeline, which can carry five million barrels of crude per day and provides a strategic alternative route for Saudi exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the is closed.

Yemen's Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes and said they were a response to "crimes" committed by and its allies during more than four years of war in support of the government.

The Saudi tankers and Amjad suffered "significant damage" in as yet unexplained sabotage attacks in the off the on Sunday, Minister said, but there were no casualties or any

An Emirati said three Western countries -- the US, and -- would be part of an investigation into the ship attacks along with the UAE and

The ships -- which also included the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati vessel -- were docked in the sea off the coast of the emirate of Fujairah, the added.

Neither nor the UAE, both close allies of the United States, have yet given details on the exact nature of those attacks, which come amid heightened tensions between and Riyadh's arch-rival

OPEC giant Saudi Arabia currently pumps around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) of which around seven million bpd are exported.

At present, most Saudi exports are loaded onto tankers at terminals on the kingdom's and must pass through the

The Saudi cabinet called for "confronting terrorist entities which carry out such sabotage acts, including the Iran-backed Huthi militias in Yemen".

has repeatedly threatened to close the in case of a military confrontation with the

On Wednesday, the ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in and consulate in Arbil after accusing the Islamic republic of planning "imminent" attacks in the region.

The US has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats. expressed concern tensions over keep escalating despite assurance from US during a visit that was not seeking war.

"So far we notice the continued escalation of tensions around this subject," Kremlin said, a day after Pompeo met with

"We are saddened to see the decisions taken by the Iranian side," Peskov said, while arguing that has been provoking

Iran and the US have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since began to roll back commitments set out in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

US withdrew the from the deal last year and has unilaterally reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

The International Agency said Wednesday that Iranian fell in April to 2.6 million barrels per day, the lowest level in over five years, and could tumble in May to levels not seen since the 1980s war with

Shiite-majority Iran rivals Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia for influence in the Middle East, with the two taking opposing sides in multiple regional conflicts including in

A military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intervened in the war in March 2015 to bolster the efforts of the internationally recognised government against the Huthi rebels.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and left up to 14 million Yemenis at risk of according to UN agencies.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 18:51 IST