Following drone strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities -- and fears of lowered production and increased crude price -- President Donald Trump said he would authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and allow for the expedited "approval" of oil pipelines in Texas and various other states.
The hits on two Saudi Aramco (SAHN) plants -- including on the largest petroleum processing facility in the world -- are expected to lower output dramatically of crude and gas for the oil-producing nation.
"Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount," wrote President Trump over Twitter Sunday evening, "sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied. I have also informed all appropriate agencies to expedite approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various other States."
Crude oil and gas production will lag in Saudi Arabia for weeks, at least, as it tries to restore to maximum capacity, reported the Financial Times on Sunday, relying on unnamed sources.
Saudi Aramco could restore a third of its output -- or about two million barrels a day -- by as early as Monday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The attacks could also cause oil prices to jump $5-$10 per barrel by Monday, reported Reuters, and by Sunday evening benchmark oil futures rocketed: November delivery Brent crude prices -- BRNX19 -- were up by more than 13% by around 7 p.m. ET.
Based on the attack on Saudi Arabia, which may have an impact on oil prices, I have authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
As for the immediate damage, Saudi officials said by Saturday that they had brought the fires under control at the plants.
But oil production and exports had been dramatically disrupted -- to the tune of about 5 million barrels per day of crude production - according to a Reuters report from Saturday. That's nearly half of Saudi Arabia's output.
Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, and Iran has denied responsibility, according to reports. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, saying on Twitter, "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."
Saudi Arabia exports more crude petroleum than any other country and Saudi Aramco is the world's biggest oil exporter.
"These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost," U.S. embassy quoted Ambassador John Abizaid said in a Twitter post.
Marie Gendron contributed to this report.