Hundreds of workers scurried in the stifling summer heat around cranes by a 100-foot-tall processing unit, a vital part of this sprawling oil facility, now charred black and reeking of tar and burned metal following an attack. The gnarled equipment and piles of debris was the result of drone-and-missile strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday that briefly knocked out half Saudi Arabia’s oil production, sending crude prices soaring. The Khurais oil field, one of the kingdom’s largest, resumed 30% of production within 24 hours of the strikes and will be totally back online by September’s end.
Saudi Arabia invited reporters to see the damaged oil facilities to show customers Aramco was back in business and to help Washington rally international support against Iran ahead of a meeting next week of world leaders at the United Nations. The Khurais field and processing plant resumed 30% of production within 24 hours of the strike and will produce 1.2 million barrels a day by the end of September, Fahad Al Abdulkareem, general manager for Aramco’s southern area oil operations. Workers are at the site 24 hours a day to speed the repairs, according to the company.
Saudi and US officials have said that the drones and missiles used to attack Abqaiq and Khurais were made by Iran, though Iran has denied involvement. The incident has ratcheted up instability in the world’s most important oil-producing region, where tensions were already high following several attacks on Saudi oil tankers and pipelines in recent months.
The Abqaiq plant, whose throughput before the attack was about 4.9 million barrels a day, is now processing about 2 million a day, Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said on Tuesday. A visit by reporters on Friday showed five damaged towers at the site. The facility should return to pre-attack levels by the end of September, according to Nasser.