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Saudi shuts main oil pipeline after Huthi drone attacks

AFP  |  Riyadh 

Drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned rebels shut down one of Saudi Arabia's pipelines Tuesday, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of several tankers.

Days after the deployed bombers and an assault ship to bolster an in the region, the world's largest crude exporter said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.

They lie on the East West Pipeline, able to pump five million barrels of a day from the to a export terminal.

The announcement came hours after Yemen's rebels said they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

said had "temporarily shut down" the pipeline to "evaluate its condition" but added that production and exports had not been interrupted.

"The company (Saudi Aramco) is working on restoring the pumping station before resuming operations," he said in a statement carried by the

The stations reportedly targeted lie west of Riyadh, at Dawadmi and Afeef.

Falih said Tuesday's incident was an "act of terrorism... that not only targets the kingdom but also the security of to the world and the global economy".

wrote on that the attacks were "a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide" against the Yemeni people.

and the intervened in the war to bolster the internationally-recognised government's efforts against the Huthis in March 2015.

The 1,200-kilometre pipeline reportedly hit Tuesday serves as an alternative for Saudi crude exports if the strategically vital at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed.

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

The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in "sabotage attacks" off the emirate of Fujairah, close to the Hormuz, on Sunday.

and its Gulf allies stopped short of blaming Riyadh's regional arch-rival for the sabotage, but US warned against doing anything to harm US interests.

"If they (Iran) do anything, it would be a very bad mistake," Trump warned at the

Iranian hit back, saying the Islamic republic was "too great to be intimidated by anyone".

The attacks came after the deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln group, an amphibious assault vessel, a missile battery and bombers, triggering fears of a possible military confrontation.

"In an environment of rising regional tensions, limited Iranian operations against the UAE and might be designed to dissuade and and signal that war with will not be limited to Iranian soil," said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the

A said the Saudi and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A. Michel.

No casualties were reported and none of the vessels sank.

The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the "deliberate sabotage".

said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no

The Andrea Victory's managers, Thome Group, said the ship's hull had been pierced "after being struck by an unknown object on the waterline".

Asked whether the United States believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Washington's Iran declined to comment, saying only that US authorities would help the investigation at the request of the UAE.

The urged all sides to "exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace."

initially spiked in response to of the attacks, but were largely flat in trading on Tuesday.

is the only located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the through which most Gulf pass.

Iran and the United States 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.

the United States from the deal last year and has unilaterally reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

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

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 19:26 IST