Saudi Arabia’s oil chief said markets are going through a “jittery period” and reiterated Tuesday that the kingdom’s ability to ensure energy security is no longer guaranteed.
Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said cross-border attacks have put to question “our ability to supply the world with the necessary energy requirements.” The attacks have been carried out by Yemen’s rebel Houthis, who are supported by Iran.
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“It goes without saying that if this security supply is impacted, it will impact us … but more fundamentally, I think it also will affect the world economy,” he said.
Prince Abdulaziz said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could once rely on a collective effort to ensure their energy security. “These pillars are no longer there,” he added. The prince spoke at the World Government Summit, an event sponsored by the government of Dubai in the UAE.
Oil prices, already at their highest in years, have shot up further amid the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil producer. Brent crude prices are trading above $110 a barrel, though have soared at times past $120.
The Houthis have used drones and missiles to target the kingdom’s oil facilities, and have also attacked targets in the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi.
On Friday, they hit a Saudi oil products storage facility in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air that were visible from the vicinity of the Formula One race where practice laps were underway.
The war in Yemen — where a Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, has been battling the Houthis since 2015 — has rattled these two Gulf Arab states, revealing the vulnerability of their oil facilities.
Saudi Arabia has expressed its frustrations in official statements, saying it will not bear any responsibility for shortages in oil supplies due to the attacks.