At 3.31am and 3.42am on Saturday, loud explosions erupted at Khurais oilfield and Abqaiq processing facility, both owned by Saudi Aramco, the country’s state-owned oil company, often described as the kingdom’s crown jewel. The explosions set off fires that took several hours to douse and appear to have caused significant damage.
New satellite images released online show the scale of destruction at vital Saudi oil facility after a series of drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthis on September 14.
The images, provided by the US government to the Associated Press (AP), show 17 impact sites at Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil plant and two at the Khurais oil field on Sunday.
The satellite image below shows the “stabilization area” of the Abqaiq facility. The area is where oil pumped out of the ground is treated in order to make it safe to move around the world via tanker ship.
Red boxes show five different areas hit in the attack, which the US believes involved 17 individual strikes.
This second image shows a second area which was hit. It shows the Khurais oil field, which is 61 miles west of the Abqaiq facility.
The below image is a zoomed-in view of one of the two destroyed buildings in the oil field. Scorch marks from the fire appear to be visible alongside the burned-out building.
The drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi oil production facilities sent an unmistakable message: that even low-tech weaponry like that used by Iran and its allies in Yemen, the Houthis, can easily overcome billions of dollars of air defenses.
The Houthis immediately claimed the attack and Iran denied any special involvement in the attack. US and Saudi officials have claimed, without hard evidence, that the attacks might have been launched from southern Iraq, where Iran has significant capabilities via the militias they support.
Evidence available is inconclusive as the weapons used appear to have enough range to have come from Yemen, Iraq, or even Iran itself, making their origin impossible to guess without better information.
Estimates suggest 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production per day have been affected, equating to more than 5% of the world’s daily supply, the AP reported.