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Saudi oil attacks accurately damaged critical infrastructure

by ace
Saudi oil attacks accurately damaged critical infrastructure

Our departure is from the private terminal of Riyadh International Airport.

It starts with a safety briefing from an Aramco employee – the Saudi oil conglomerate that owns the two attacked plants.

We are only instructed to film when they say we can and to follow the team's instructions.

These are sites that are confidential in terms of intellectual property security and, as evidenced last weekend, also of physical security.

I am sure that under normal circumstances there would be many obstacles to securing permission to film inside these oil facilities.

But these are not normal times, so Sky News and many other global media are heading for a hasty tour of the Khurais and Abqaiq factories.

Saudi Arabia's oil production was cut in half last weekend in an extraordinary and bold attack being blamed on Iran.

The implications of the attack are geopolitical and economic. Saudi Aramco is keen to demonstrate that its plants are being repaired and production is rapidly returning to pre-strike levels.

That's why the media are being taken in droves to two factories on an Aramco plane to see the damage and repairs.

Image:
Workers at damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Khurais, Saudi Arabia

At a news conference a few days ago, newly appointed Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said the company "has resurfaced like a phoenix from the ashes."

Our visit was designed to substantiate this statement. The company needs its customers worldwide to know that it is reliable and secure.

Visiting the bombed Saudi oil factory

Visiting the bombed Saudi oil factory

He needs investors to know that it is worth investing when he makes his long-awaited IPO soon. Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman is eyeing an extraordinary $ 2 trillion (£ 1.6 trillion) valuation target.

But clearly this is part of the political strategy to counter Iran's perceived threat as well.

Satellite imagery showing Khurais plant and damage area in upper red square
Image:
A satellite image showing the Khurais plant and the damage area in the upper red square.

The US and Saudi Arabia are trying to illustrate why Iran should be prevented from destabilizing the region – and in the case of last weekend – impacting the global oil market.

Images of the damage we are being allowed to film are part of this strategy.

The location of the damage is important. For example, damage to the north side of the structures suggests that the missiles and drones came from the north (Iran) and not from the south (Yemen).

Device Shards

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of being behind attack on oil plant

It is clear looking at the damage the missiles and drones they hit last Saturday were sophisticated, accurately removing critical infrastructure.

No one was injured in the attacks. The staff here told us how fast the emergency services were here, how they worked even when the missiles and drones hit, and how they managed to extinguish fires very quickly.

The other vital strand of the US / Saudi Arabia strategy is undoubtedly proving that Iran, not the Yemeni Houthi rebel group, is behind the attack.

US intelligence officials have suggested they may reveal more about this in the coming days – perhaps satellite imagery showing the launch site to prove the missiles came from Iran.

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