Within less than three months, Saudi Aramco oil and gas facilities have been attacked with drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi militias that are supported by Tehran. In May, drones struck at two different pipeline pumping stations, but that did not interrupt the flow of oil from the Kingdom’s east coast to the west coast and so crude exports remained unaffected.The most recent Houthi drone attack on the Shaybah oil field came as screws were further tightened on Iranian oil exports.These exports hit historically low levels of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) as the Asian refiners halted imports from Tehran.
One of the most significant losses for Iran was Japan, the main customer for the Arabian Extra Light crude oil grade that is produced from the Shaybah oil field, which started operations in the late 1990s with total reserves of 14.3 billion barrels.Shaybah produces around 1.3 million bpd of the Arabian Extra Light crude oil grade that is transported by a 645 km pipeline to export facilities at Ras Tanura. It is located in one of Saudi Arabia’s most remote areas: The heart of the Empty Quarter.
The oil field has attracted a steady flow of investment and has continued to expand through the years.That is more than can be said for the Iranian oil and gas sector, which has attracted minimal meaningful investment since the 1970s.Aramco’s customers continue to buy Saudi crude, ignoring drone attacks, while Iran continues to be shunned.