Iran dismisses US claim it was behind Saudi oil attacks, says ready for war
DUBAI, Sept 15: Iran dismissed accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that disrupted world oil production and warned on Sunday that US bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.
Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen and accused Iran of "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, speaking on state TV, dismissed the U.S. claim as "pointless". A senior Revolutionary Guards commander warned that the Islamic Republic was ready for "full-fledged" war and that U.S. military assets were within range of Iranian missiles.
"Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometres around Iran are within the range of our missiles," the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force Amirali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
State-run oil company Saudi Aramco said the strikes would cut output by 5.7 million barrels per day, or more than 5% of global crude supply, at a time when Aramco is gearing up for a stock market listing.
Aramco gave no timeline for when output would resume but said early Sunday it would give a progress update in around 48 hours. A source close to the matter told Reuters the return to full oil capacity could take "weeks, not days".
The kingdom, the world's top oil exporter, ships more than 7 million barrels of oil to global destinations every day, and for years has served as the supplier of last resort to markets.
The United States said it was ready to tap its emergency oil reserves if needed after the attack on two oil plants, including the world's biggest petroleum processing facility in Abqaiq.
Saudi Arabia's stock market opened down 2.3% on Sunday. Saudi petrochemical companies, including Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), announced a significant reduction in feedstock supplies.
"Abqaiq is the nerve centre of the Saudi energy system. Even if exports resume in the next 24-48 hours, the image of invulnerability has been altered," Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told Reuters. -REUTERS