Trump says USA 'locked and loaded' after attack

17 Septembre, 2019, 07:59 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Trump says USA 'locked and loaded' after attack

It comes as tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after a weekend drone attack halted production of half of Saudi Arabia's oil supplies. Brent crude, the global standard, surged $6.02 per barrel, or 10%, to $66.25 per barrel.

Benchmark oil futures jumped as much as $11.73 a barrel to $71.95 as markets opened, the largest ever rise in dollar-terms since futures started trading in 1988.

The president wrote that he had authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, "in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied".

Saudi Arabia exports more than 7 million barrels of crude oil every day, much of that to Asia, but about 47% of what it sends to the United States goes to the West Coast.

The Saturday attacks shut down production on roughly 5% of the world's daily production of crude oil, equal to about 5 million barrels. This grade is described as light because of its relatively low density, and sweet because of its low sulphur content.

"A supply disruption on this scale is an extraordinary event", said Pavel Molchanov, an oil analyst with Raymond James. "I think it's very clear this was the Iranians".

Saudi Arabia was on Monday expected to restore at least a third of the production lost to the attacks, according to experts and reports.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, but the USA has accused Iran of launching the assault.

"There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom", Trump said Sunday evening referring to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The United States exports about 3 million barrels of oil a day and could boost those shipments further.

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In an escalating series of moves, Tehran has sought to counter or undermine those sanctions - attacking a handful of oil tankers, seizing others and their crews and assaulting Saudi oil facilities, according to USA officials.

U.S. pump prices are likely to rise in coming days as gasoline futures spiked by more than 10% on Sunday trading, analysts said. But, you know, that may be sidelined now with these strikes, especially if the U.S.is seen as blaming Iran for these attacks in Saudi Arabia.

ANZ Research said in a note that the market would price in "a sizable global geopolitical risk premium".

Tensions have been high since Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and strictly reimposed sanctions, including on Iran's oil industry - its economic lifeblood.

Two sources briefed on the operations of state oil company Saudi Aramco told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal.

Asked about the possibility of a retaliatory attack against Iranian oil assets, as suggested by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican close to the United States president, Conway said the Trump administration is keeping "many options on the table".

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls Yemen's capital claimed responsibility for the attack, which damaged the world's biggest crude oil processing plant.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said on Sunday that Pompeo's statements were "obscure and meaningless" for diplomatic progress, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported.

A senior USA official told media, including Reuters, that evidence indicated the attacks were launched from west or northwest of the facilities, the direction of Iran. But a long outage would make markets subject to swings that could potentially destabilize the global economy.

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