JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Aramco said Tuesday that a strike by Yemen’s Huthi rebels on its plant in Jeddah tore a hole in an oil tank, triggering an explosion and fire that was quickly extinguished.
The energy giant took reporters to the distribution facility where damage to the tank was visible the day after the attack, with the top rim left fire-blackened and the railings above buckled from the heat.
By a hostile attack
“Unfortunately the facility was hit yesterday by a projectile, by a hostile attack. As you know Aramco has been a target of such hostile attacks,” said Abdullah al-Ghamdi, manager of the North Jeddah Bulk Plant.
“This tank, as you see, is hit from the top side… there is major damage to the roof itself, it’s a big hole that is almost two metres by two metres,” he said. “It was a big fire, it was a big explosion but it was controlled.”
The manager said that distribution from the plant, which provides refined products including jet fuel to the country’s west, was restored within three hours even though the damaged tank — one of 13 — remained out of action.
“The fire was extinguished in a very short time, it only took about 40 minutes to put (out) a major fire in a major tank like this,” he said, confirming there had been no casualties.
The Iran-backed Huthis claimed the strike on Monday, saying they had fired a Quds-2 missile at the facility in retaliation for Saudi Arabia’s role at the head of a military coalition that supports the government in Yemen’s long conflict.
Ballistic missile and drone attacks
Saudi Arabia has been targeted with dozens of ballistic missile and drone attacks since the start of last year, including a devastating and unprecedented strike on Aramco’s facilities in the country’s east.
The Washington and Riyadh held Iran responsible for that attack.
Ghamdi likened Monday’s incident to the September 2019 assault on the Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oil field which temporarily halved the kingdom’s crude output and caused turmoil on global energy markets.
“What happened yesterday was another hostile attack, similar to what happened at Khurais and Abqaiq,” he said.
“However, this will only demonstrate that Aramco’s resilience to such hostile attack will remain, and demonstrate the reliability of our energy supply” within and outside the kingdom, he added.
Ghamdi said the company was assessing whether the tank could be repaired.