Trump says the US is ‘locked and loaded’ after drone attack on Saudi oil fields

Donald Trump says America is ‘locked and loaded’ as it waits for confirmation Iran was was behind drone attacks on a Saudi oil field.

The President tweeted on Sunday night: ‘Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!’

Trump then added: ‘PLENTY OF OIL!’

His Sunday night tweet came an hour after he confirmed he had authorized the release of reserve oil to stabilize prices.

He wrote: ‘Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied. 

‘I have also informed all appropriate agencies to expedite approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various other States.’

Petrol prices are set to rise after devastating drone strikes on two oil refineries in Saudi Arabia caused shockwaves in the global market.

Analysts fear the attacks – which heightened tensions in the region after the US blamed Iran – could push the price of crude oil up by $10 a barrel.

A barrel is currently trading at just over $60, but traders warned this could soar to $100 if Saudi Arabia fails to address the impact on supplies over the next few weeks, meaning motorists would see a much more hefty price rise at forecourts.

A swarm of up to ten hi-tech drones fired missiles on the world’s biggest refinery, Abqaiq, and a vast oil field, Khurais, early on Saturday. The incident ratcheted up the war of words between Washington and Tehran

A swarm of up to ten hi-tech drones fired missiles on the world’s biggest refinery, Abqaiq, and a vast oil field, Khurais, early on Saturday. The incident ratcheted up the war of words between Washington and Tehran

A swarm of up to ten hi-tech drones fired missiles on the world’s biggest refinery, Abqaiq, and a vast oil field, Khurais, early on Saturday. The incident ratcheted up the war of words between Washington and Tehran 

The attack in the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, immediately wiped out half its production of ten million barrels a day – which experts said would take ‘weeks’ to restore.

A swarm of up to ten hi-tech drones fired missiles on the world’s biggest refinery, Abqaiq, and a vast oil field, Khurais, early on Saturday.

The incident ratcheted up the war of words between Washington and Tehran at a time when Donald Trump was seemingly softening his stance towards Iran.

A barrel is currently trading at just over $60, but traders warned this could soar to $100 if Saudi Arabia fails to address the impact on supplies over the next few weeks

A barrel is currently trading at just over $60, but traders warned this could soar to $100 if Saudi Arabia fails to address the impact on supplies over the next few weeks

A barrel is currently trading at just over $60, but traders warned this could soar to $100 if Saudi Arabia fails to address the impact on supplies over the next few weeks

Houthi rebels in Yemen – where a civil war has raged since they partially unseated the Saudi-backed government – claimed responsibility for the damage at the Aramco facilities.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was ‘no evidence’ for the claim. He implicated Iran, which is waging a proxy war in Yemen by funding the Houthi rebels in their conflict with the old regime backed by an international coalition led by the Saudis.

‘Amid the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,’ he said.

Tehran’s toxic ‘proxy’ war

A civil war has raged in Yemen for five years, during which thousands have died and millions face starvation.

The conflict has been labelled a ‘proxy’ war in which Saudi Arabia and Iran back the opposing sides. 

It has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when an uprising forced Yemen’s long-time authoritarian president to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

This transition was supposed to bring stability to one of the Middle East’s poorest nations, but the new president struggled to keep order. 

Widespread fighting began in 2014 when Houthi rebels seized large swathes of territory, forcing Mr Hadi into exile.

The Houthi tribal militia – who belong to the Shia branch of Islam – have been backed by Iran, the only major Shia power in the Middle East.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and eight other Sunni Arab states, who back Mr Hadi, began devastating air strikes against the Houthis. The coalition is backed by the UK, US and France.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the remarks as ‘blind and futile comments’. 

He added: ‘The Americans adopted the “maximum pressure” policy against Iran which, due to its failure, is leaning towards “maximum lies”.’

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force, warned the Islamic Republic was ready for a ‘fully-fledged’ war. 

‘Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000km (1,250 miles) around Iran are within range of our missiles,’ he added.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fuelled concerns about a full-scale conflict by saying he was ‘willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression’. But experts said the Saudis did not want open conflict with Iran.

The full effect of Saturday’s attacks will become apparent today when the oil markets reopen. 

Andrew Lipow, president of US consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates, said: ‘This is a big deal. Fearing the worst, I expect that the market will open $5 to $10 per barrel up.’

International energy expert Professor Nick Butler added: ‘If retaliation becomes a reality, any spike (in prices) could be sustained.’

The AA’s Luke Bosdet said the slightly stronger pound and greater oil production in the US had limited the impact of recent disruptions to the global market. 

But he warned that drivers could still see forecourts take advantage of a ‘mini surge’ in wholesale costs to drive up pump prices.

 

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