What Happened: Yemen-based Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for drone attacks on two of Saudi Arabia's major oil facilities, Al Jazeera reported Sept. 14. The extent of the damage at the Saudi Aramco-owned Abqaiq oil processing facility — the world's largest — and the Khurais oil field was unclear. Sources told Reuters that the attacks had disrupted oil production and exports, but did not elaborate. The Iran-aligned Houthis said they had launched 10 drones at the facilities, had had help from within Saudi Arabia and would launch additional attacks in the future.
Why It Matters: The Abqaiq facility processes up to 7 million barrels of crude oil a day, while the Khurais oil field produces more than 1 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to AP. There was no immediate impact on global oil prices since markets are closed for the weekend. The attacks suggest the use of long-range drones with the support of Iran or shorter-range drones launched from inside Saudi Arabia itself, if the Houthis are behind the attacks. The attacks likely will increase tensions further across the Persian Gulf amid a standoff between the United States and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal and economic sanctions.
Background: A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels inside Yemen since 2015. The war has killed more than 90,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. Attacks against vital Saudi oil and gas infrastructure have increased dramatically this year.