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Yemeni rebel attacks spark huge fire at Saudi oil plant

“We carried out several strikes with drones and ballistic missiles,” including an “Aramco facility in Jeddah (and) vital facilities in Riyadh,” the Houthi rebels said in a statement.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed rebels confirmed the attack, which came on the eve of the seventh anniversary of its military intervention in Yemen’s brutal civil war.

In a statement, the coalition said the fire caused by the attack “has been controlled and has not caused any casualties.”

He also assured that the attack, which was aimed at Aramco’s “petroleum product tanks”, “will have no impact on activities in the city of Jeddah”, referring to the Formula 1 circuit.

The smoke was visible from the F1 track in that city, where several drivers participated in free practice this Friday.

Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen said he could smell the fire while driving. “I have a burning smell… is it my car?” the Dutchman asked over the team radio.

– Sixteen attacks –

The Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a total of 16 attacks against various targets, including a power station in Jizan, on the border with Yemen, which was set on fire.

The attacks come against a backdrop of rising oil prices since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and world supplies have been disrupted as Russia is hit by Western sanctions.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, warned on Monday of the risk of a drop in its production after several attacks that occurred days before claimed by the Houthis.

One of them targeted an Aramco refinery in the Red Sea industrial city of Yanbu, some 100km north of Jeddah, forcing the company to “temporarily” cut output and draw on inventory to compensate.

The Foreign Ministry again accused Iran of “continuing to supply drones and missiles” to the Houthis and called on the international community to get involved in finding solutions.

“Saudi Arabia will not take responsibility for oil supply shortages on world markets in light of attacks on its oil facilities,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The Houthi attacks “affect the kingdom’s production and its ability to meet its commitments, clearly threatening the security and stability of supplies in world markets,” he insisted.

Western countries have been putting pressure since the start of the Ukraine crisis on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, to increase its production.

But the Gulf monarchy has remained deaf to these calls, faithful to its commitments to the OPEC alliance, which includes Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter.

– Delays in GP training –

The second free practice session of the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix was slightly delayed after the attacks: the session was scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. local time instead of the initial 8:00 p.m.

Team bosses met with F1 boss Stefano Domenicali to discuss the situation, AFP reported.

“He has informed them that the weekend will go ahead as planned and that the security of the event has been a priority for the authorities prior to this incident,” an IF spokesman said.

“He will keep them updated with any new information and will surely meet with the team leaders again in the evening to pass on any new news to them,” he added.



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