RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels said they attacked a major Saudi Arabian oil port on the Persian Gulf with drones and missiles on Sunday. Saudi authorities said the strike caused no casualties or damage.
The Saudi Energy Ministry said an assault “coming from the sea” had targeted petroleum tanks at the Ras Tanura port. It condemned what it called “repeated acts of sabotage and hostility” targeting energy supplies to the world.
“All indications point to Iran,” said an adviser to the Saudi royal court who said he was briefed on the matter. He said it wasn’t clear whether the origin was Iran or Iraq but that it hadn’t come from the direction of Yemen.
Iranian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. An Iraqi official said he was unaware of any connection between his country and the attack.
Oil prices rose after the market opened Sunday evening in New York following the attack. Brent crude, the global gauge of oil prices, added more than 2.5% and rose above $71 a barrel. Prices have surged to their highest level since May 2019, lifted by rising demand as the global economy reopens from shutdowns designed to stop the coronavirus and supply curtailments around the world.
In 2019, a drone and missile attack on the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry temporarily shut down half the kingdom’s crude production. At the time, the Houthis claimed responsibility, but the U.S. said the attack was launched from Iraq or Iran, which denied the accusations.
Yahya Saree, spokesman for Houthi forces fighting the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, said the group on Sunday used 10 drones and a ballistic missile in an attack on Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, as well as four drones and six missiles aimed at the southern Saudi regions of Asir and Jazan.
The Houthis have stepped up aerial attacks on Saudi Arabia following the inauguration in January of President Biden, who has pledged to end the six-year-old civil war in Yemen and recalibrate Washington’s relationship with Riyadh.
The Biden administration has said it wants to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal and then negotiate a deeper, broader agreement with Tehran that also addresses Iran’s military posture and activities in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition that intervened in the conflict in Yemen, which now faces one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The coalition launched a new round of airstrikes on the capital Sanaa earlier Sunday, warning that targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia was “a red line.”
Hussein Nasser, a father of two living in Sanaa, said the coalition bombardment of a nearby military base shattered the windows in dozens of homes in his neighborhood, injuring several people. “Five airstrikes at the same time while people and their kids were having lunch,” he said.
Following the incident at Ras Tanura, the port was operating as normal, according to several shipping sources. “Loadings are continuing normally,” said a manager at a shipping agency there who declined to be named. He wasn’t aware of any distribution center being hit.
Ras Tanura is the site of Saudi Aramco’s oldest and largest oil refinery and the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility. The 550,000 barrel-a-day refinery supplies over a quarter of the kingdom’s fuel supply.
Shrapnel from a ballistic missile, which the Houthis said they had fired at military targets in nearby Dammam, fell near Aramco’s residential area in neighboring Dhahran, the Saudi statement said.
An Aramco employee living in the area said he saw two projectiles intercepted overhead by Saudi air defenses, which rely heavily on U.S. Patriot antimissile systems. Nearby residents reported the windows of their homes had trembled or even shattered from the blasts.
Images shared on social media showed bright blasts of light in the sky above Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province and later a plume of white smoke.
—Benoit Faucon, Saleh al-Batati and Amrith Ramkumar contributed to this article.
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