Saudi halts production at attacked oil plants

US Secretary of State blames Iran for drone attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais plants as their interruption is about 50 percent of Aramco’s total output.

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted production at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities that were attacked by Yemeni rebels, interrupting about half of the company's total output, the energy minister said Saturday.

The attacks "resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants," Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of crude, or about 50 percent of total production, he added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the drone attacks.

The attacks, attributed to Iranian-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, sparked huge fires at a vulnerable chokepoint for global energy supplies.

But in Saturday tweets, Pompeo said "there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," pointing the finger at Tehran.

"Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," he added.

The attacks come as Trump has held the door open for nuclear talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and as Iran restarted some uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Pompeo said the US called on all nations to "condemn Iran's attacks."

"The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression," he said.