Oil prices jump on drone attack on Saudi Aramco facilities

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On Monday, the New York Times reported the top USA defence official has presented an updated military plan to Trump's administration that envisions sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack United States forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons. Brent was trading at $71.07 a barrel by 1347 GMT, up 1.20%.

Commenting on the attack, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Falih said on Tuesday the attack caused a fire, now contained, and minor damage at one pump station, but did not disrupt oil output or exports of crude and petroleum products, Reuters reported.

Shortly after the Saudi announcement, Iran's Foreign Ministry called for further clarification about what exactly happened with the vessels.

Houthi-run Masirah TV earlier said that the group had carried out drone attacks on "vital" Saudi Arabian installations in response to "continued aggression and blockade" on Yemen. The Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels are fighting the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, which is supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

As a precaution, Aramco temporarily shut down the pipeline to evaluate its condition and was working on restoring the oil pumping stations before resuming operations, Falih said. Following a reported drone attack on two pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, oil prices jumped by as much as 1.4 percent in the United States.

Tehran is caught up in a mounting war of words with the USA over sanctions and the recent escalation of its military's presence in the region.

State and semi-official media in Iran picked up the report from Al-Mayadeen, which later published the names of vessels it claimed were involved.

"Any unsafe slip and the region will pay a risky price, Iraq will pay a risky price", Mahdi added.

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Four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged in as yet unexplained "sabotage attacks" at a time of Gulf tensions triggered by a bitter US-Iran standoff.

US national security agencies said they believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have been responsible for the tanker attacks rather than Iranian forces themselves.

Iran has called for a full investigation into Sunday's incident which it described as "worrisome".

A United Arab Emirates government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and a UAE ship, the A. Michel.

The image from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. that the AP examined on Wednesday shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 outside of the town of al-Duadmi. Zarif regularly accuses the Trump administration, Israel and Saudi Arabia of pushing the region into war.

The incident has increased tensions between Iran, which borders the nearby Strait of Hormuz, and the US.

Diplomatic relations between the USA and Iran have deteriorated following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal inked with the oil-rich nation.

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