The U.S. on Monday kept the pressure on Iran, accusing it of perpetrating a damaging attack on Saudi oil refineries even as rebel fighters in Yemen doubled down on their claim of responsibility.
The drone attacks on Saturday, which caused fires at two facilities operated by Saudi state oil giant Aramco in the eastern province of Buqyaq, sent global oil prices rising faster than normal in decades.
The U.S. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, while speaking at the annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, said the attacks were deliberate on the global economy and the global energy market.
He added that in spite Iran’s malign efforts; the U.S. was very confident that the market was resilient and would respond positively.
However, the EU and China issued warnings not to jump to conclusions.
The EU foreign policy spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, reiterated in Brussels, that it was important to clearly establish facts and then determine responsibility.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said it was irresponsible to draw conclusions without a conclusive investigation, and called on parties to refrain from escalating regional tensions.
The Houthi rebels spokesman, Yahia Sarie, in threatened to carry out further attacks, saying “our hands can reach any place anytime time we decide.“
Satellite images shared by unnamed U.S. officials were cited in media including ABC, CBS and the New York Times as evidence that the attack could not have come from Yemen.
This, the officials said, as the points of impact on the Saudi targets were inconsistent with an attack from the south, where Yemen lies.
The price of oil increased significantly in the first minutes of trading on Monday following drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities.
Prices initially climbed by up to 20 per cent before falling again somewhat.
A barrel (159 litres) of Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, went up in price by just over six dollars, to 66.60 dollars.
The price of West Texas Intermediate also went up by around 10 per cent, rising 5.45 dollars to bring the cost of a barrel to 60.30 dollars.
According to Aramco, Buqyaq is home to the world’s largest oil refining plant.
Meanwhile, the U.S. President, Donald Trump, announced late Sunday that he had approved the release of resources from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve if needed.
“Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorised the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed.
“In a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.
“The U.S. was locked and loaded and awaiting for word from Saudi Arabia on how the allies should respond to the attacks,” Trump said.
(Edited by Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim)