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US President Donald Trump says he greenlighted the release of oil from the US strategic reserves and ordered pipeline approvals to be streamlined to keep the oil market “well-supplied,” following the attacks on Saudi Aramco.
The drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil processing plant in Abqaiq and another oil facility have cut the state-run oil giant’s daily production in half, sending Saudi stocks into a nosedive and sparking fears that oil prices could hit triple digits.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump said the US would draw from its oil reserves “if needed, in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well supplied,” adding that he “also informed all appropriate agencies to expedite approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various other States.”
In the run-up to the announcement, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed that Washington “stands ready” to deploy its own reserves to “offset any disruption to oil markets as a result of this act of aggression.”
The drone attacks, which triggered major blazes at two Saudi oil refineries in the early hours of Saturday, were claimed by the Houthi rebels, who have previously admitted to staging attacks on Saudi territory, including airports, in retaliation to the Saudi-led coalition bombing camping in Yemen on behalf of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which has led to mass civilian casualties.
Washington, however, pinned the blame squarely on Tehran, alleging that the attack was too sophisticated to be carried out by the rebels, with a senior US official telling Reuters that US intelligence pinpointed the launch area in the direction of Iraq and Iran.
Tehran has rebuffed the allegations, describing them as “maximum lies” and saying it stands ready to defend itself in case of a war.
The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world’s largest cache of emergency crude, located underground in Louisiana and Texas, and totaling 630 million barrels.