On March 25, the North Jeddah oil depot in the coastal city of Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia was attacked by Yemen’s Houthis, and thick smoke rose from the sky. The attack marked an escalation in tensions in the world’s main oil-exporting region, and oil prices rose in response.
The Houthis have escalated attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure in recent weeks. On March 21, local time, Saudi Arabia said that any global oil shortage is not the responsibility of Saudi Arabia. Reuters commented that this shows that Saudi Arabia is increasingly dissatisfied with the handling of the Yemen issue by the United States.
On March 26, Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they would cease-fire with the Saudi-led coalition for three days, and said they would commit to a permanent ceasefire if the coalition stopped air strikes and withdrawn its troops.
Yemen’s Houthis launch attack on Saudi energy facility
Yemen’s Houthis say they targeted Saudi energy facilities on March 25, while the Saudi-led coalition says two oil tanks were attacked at a Saudi Aramco oil depot in North Jeddah. A fire broke out, but no one was injured.
The head of the International Energy Agency, Birol, condemned the attack, saying that the oil market is extremely volatile and the world is dealing with an increasingly severe energy crisis.
“This escalation of hostile attacks on oil facilities is aimed at undermining energy security and the backbone of the global economy,” Saudi Arabia’s military spokesman Turki al-Maliki said.
However, according to Bloomberg News, the attacked oil depot in North Jeddah mainly meets Saudi domestic demand and has limited impact on the global crude oil market. But the escalation of the attacks still worries oil traders, with crude now trading above $100 a barrel.
The 2022 Formula 1 (F1) Saudi Grand Prix practice session was taking place in Jeddah when the oil facility was attacked. After urgent consultation, the relevant parties of the event decided that the event arrangement will continue as originally planned.
It was the second attack in a week on an oil depot in North Jeddah, which stores diesel, gasoline and jet kerosene and supplies more than 25 percent of Saudi Arabia’s total supply.
In recent weeks, the Houthis have escalated attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Over the past two months, the Houthis have intensified their attacks on Saudi Arabia after losing several strategically important areas in the oil-rich Marib province and the southern province of Shabwa amid fighting with Yemeni government forces.
On March 21, the Saudi government said it was not the kingdom’s responsibility for any global oil supply shortage following the Houthis attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Reuters commented that this shows that Saudi Arabia is increasingly dissatisfied with the United States’ handling of the Yemen issue. Tensions have risen between Saudi Arabia and the United States, with Saudi Arabia rejecting calls from Western countries to increase oil production following the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Saudi Arabia has urged the United States to provide security support and seek security commitments, including intelligence cooperation and operational support, to counter the threat from Yemen’s Houthis, the Financial Times reported.
Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes on Yemen
From the night of March 25 to the morning of March 26, the Saudi-led multinational coalition carried out airstrikes on Yemen’s Houthi targets in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the western port city of Hodeidah. The coalition said the strike was aimed at protecting global energy and securing supply chains.
Turki Maleki, the spokesman for the multinational coalition, said that the targets of the multinational coalition were targets that posed a security threat to Saudi Arabia. Separately, coalition forces intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden drones that took off from the site of a civilian oil facility in Hodeidah controlled by Yemen’s Houthis.
The Houthis say coalition airstrikes hit a power plant, a fuel supply station and Yemen’s social security office in Sana’a. Among them, the residence of the guards of the Social Security Office was attacked by airstrikes, killing at least 7 people and injuring 3 others. The coalition also attacked oil facilities in Hodeidah, a move that Yemen’s Houthi rebels say violates a ceasefire agreed in 2018.
The Houthis have pledged a three-day ceasefire.