Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 16, 2019

Damage At Saudi Oil Plant Points To Well Targeted Swarm Attack

Saturday's attack on the Saudi oil and gas processing station in Abqaiq hit its stabilization facility:

The stabilization process is a form of partial distillation which sweetens "sour" crude oil (removes the hydrogen sulfide) and reduces vapor pressure, thereby making the crude oil safe for shipment in tankers. Stabilizers maximize production of valuable hydrocarbon liquids, while making the liquids safe for storage and transport, as well as reduce the atmospheric emissions of volatile hydrocarbons. Stabilizer plants are used to reduce the volatility of stored crude oil and condensate.

Soon after the attack U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went into full 'blame Iran' mode:

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 21:59 UTC · Sep 14, 2019
Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally 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

Abqaiq lies at the heart of the Saudi oil infrastructure. It processes more than half of the Saudi oil output.


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The U.S. government published two detailed pictures of the attack's result.


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The pictures show some 17 points of impact. There are cars visible in the second more detailed picture that demonstrate the gigantic size of the place. The targets were carefully selected. At least 11 of those were egg shaped tanks with a diameter of some 30 meter (100 foot). These are likely tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas that receive the condensate vapor from the stabilization process. They all have now quite neat holes in their upper shells.

The piping to and from the egg shaped tanks shows that these were configured in groups with double redundancy. Two tanks beside each other share one piping system. Two of such twin tanks are next to each other with lines to their processing train. There are a total of three such groups. Damage to any one tank or group would not stop the production process. The products would be routed to another similar tank or group. But with all tanks of this one special type taken out the production chain is now interrupted.

Two processing areas were hit and show fire damage. At least the control equipment of both was likely completely destroyed:

Consultancy Rapidan Energy Group said images of the Abqaiq facility after the attack showed about five of its stabilization towers appeared to have been destroyed, and would take months to rebuild - something that could curtail output for a prolonged period.

“However Saudi Aramco keeps some redundancy in the system to maintain production during maintenance,” Rapidan added, meaning operations could return to pre-attack levels sooner.

The targeting for this attack was done with detailed knowledge of the process and its dependencies.

The north arrow in those pictures points to the left. The visible shadows confirm the direction. The holes in the tanks are on the western side. They were attacked from the west.

The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. They may have been launched from within Saudi Arabia.

There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planing for this operation must have taken months.

A Middle-East BBC producer remarks:

Riam Dalati @Dalatrm - 22:44 UTC · Sep 15, 2019
17 points of impact. No Drones or missiles were detected/intercepted. Saudis & Americans still at loss as to where the attack was launched from. #KSA seriously needs to shop elsewhere & replace the Patriot or reinforce it with a web of radar operated AA guns like the Oerlikon.
A source familiar with #Aramco situation told us earlier today that it was a “swarm attack”, a mix of > 20 drones and missiles, at least half of which were "suicide" drones. #USA & #KSA, he said, are 'certain' that attack was launched from #Iraq but 'smoking gun still missing'
They are also 'fairly certain' that #IRGC was behind the operation because, even though the missiles used were identical to those of the #Houthis, an inspection of the debris found in the desert revealed a 'couple of new updates' and a 'distinctly better craftsmanship'

The Wall Street Journal reports of the damage:

The strikes knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily production, and the officials said they still believe they can fully replace it in coming days. That would require tapping oil inventories and using other facilities to process crude. One of the main targets of the attack was a large crude-processing plant in Abqaiq.
...
“It is definitely worse than what we expected in the early hours after the attack, but we are making sure that the market won’t experience any shortages until we’re fully back online,” said a Saudi official.
...
Even if Saudi officials were successful in restoring all or most of the lost production, the attack demonstrates a new vulnerability to supply lines across the oil-rich Gulf.

Tankers have been paying sharply higher insurance premiums, while shipping rates have soared in the region after a series of maritime attacks on oil-laden vessels, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
...
Khurais produces about 1.5 million barrels a day and Abqaiq, the world’s biggest crude-stabilization facility, processes seven million barrels of Saudi oil a day, turning crude into specific grades, such as Arabian Extra Light.

The repairs at Abqaiq will likely take weeks, not days. Brent crude futures rose by 19.5 percent to $71.95 per barrel, the biggest jump since 14 January, 1991:

Aramco gave no timeline for output resumption. A source close to the matter told Reuters the return to full oil capacity could take “weeks, not days”.

Riyadh said it would compensate for the damage at its facilities by drawing on its stocks, which stood at 188 million barrels in June, according to official data.

U.S. President Donald Trump was way more careful in attributing the strike than his Secretary of State.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 0:50 UTC · Sep 16, 2019
Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. 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 as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

Any direct attack on Iran would result in swarms of missiles hitting U.S. military installations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Saudi water desalination plants, refineries and ports would also be targets.

It is doubtful that Trump or the Saudis are ready to risk such a response.

The attack on Abqaiq was not the last one and all Saudi installations are extremely vulnerable:

Yemen’s Houthi rebels said oil installations in Saudi Arabia remain among their targets after attacks against two major sites slashed the kingdom’s output by half and triggered a surge in crude prices.

The Iranian-backed rebel group, cited by the Houthi’s television station, said its weapons can reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia. Saturday’s attacks were carried out by “planes” using new engines, the group said, likely referring to drones.

Middle East Eye, a Qatari financed outlet, reported yesterday that the attack was launched from Iraq by Iran aligned forces in revenge for Israeli attacks in Syria. The author, David Hearst, is known for slandered reporting. The report is based on a single anonymous Iraqi intelligence source. Qatar, which is struggling with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, would like to see a larger conflict involving its rivals east and west of the Persian Gulf. The report should therefore be disregarded.

Saudi Arabia has no defenses against this kind of attacks. The U.S. has no system that could be used for that purpose. Russia is the only country that can provide the necessary equipment. It would be extremely costly, and still insufficient, to protect all of the Saudi's vital facilities from similar swarm attacks.

Attacks of this kind will only end when Saudi Arabia makes peace with Yemen and when the U.S. ends its sanctions of oil exports from Iran. As Iran's President Rouhani said:

“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”

It is high time for hawks like Pompeo to recognize that Iran means what it says and has the tools to fulfill that promise.

Posted by b on September 16, 2019 at 9:48 UTC | Permalink

Comments
« previous page

“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf”

No problem, just have to build new pipelines making the Persian Gulf facilities obsolete, then attack Iran.

Posted by: Bob | Sep 17 2019 15:31 utc | 301

@287 arby... this is how trump is making america great again... selling war and mercenaries in prep for war and raising the stock price of twitter, lol... the twitter king is making america great again!

@295 elkern... thanks for your comments..

Posted by: james | Sep 17 2019 15:39 utc | 302

For those getting worked up into a lather regards V.V. Putin's recent comments - he was trolling.

Putin knows full well that the United States would never allow the Saudi Barbarians to purchase Russian air defense systems.

Posted by: Sid Finster | Sep 17 2019 15:41 utc | 303

@ Posted by: Bob | Sep 17 2019 15:31 utc | 301

That would take a couple decades. If it was that simple, the USA and Saudi Arabia would've already done it.

Iran is, at this point, looking to the East (China, New Silk Road). The West is now just an obstacle.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 15:43 utc | 304

Has anyone proposed the possibility of an Israeli false-flag
piggy-backed on to a (smaller) Houthi' drone attack?

Posted by: librul | Sep 17 2019 15:52 utc | 305

Bob @301

No problem, just have to build new pipelines making the Persian Gulf facilities obsolete, then attack Iran.

Access to the sea outside the Persian Gulf and Read Sea was sort of the idea with the Yemen war, wasn't it? This is not the best time to promote that idea...

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 17 2019 15:58 utc | 306

This is the result of Trump's following through on his nationalist campaign rhetoric and his revocation of JCPOA (plus reinstatement of crippling sanctions).

Nationalism leads to war. 100% of the time. Get it, yet Trumpistas? Brexiteers (AKA Trump's Bitches)?

Luckily Trump is a shameless charlatan rather than an actual nationalist who will back down by finagling some nonsensical way out, most likely with his and Nutty's great good friend Putin leading the way out of the orange fuzzy headed wilderness.

Posted by: donkeytale | Sep 17 2019 16:01 utc | 307

Is someone manipulating the futures market on oil?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-aramco/saudi-oil-output-to-recover-in-two-or-three-weeks-after-attack-sources-idUSKBN1W2184

Saudi oil output to recover in two or three weeks after attack: sources

Posted by: librul | Sep 17 2019 16:07 utc | 308

Saudi official explaining how Iran is responsible for the attack "everything points to them", meaning "everyone is pointing at them".

Posted by: the pessimist | Sep 17 2019 16:11 utc | 309

librul @ 305
:Has anyone proposed the possibility of an Israeli false-flag
piggy-backed on to a (smaller) Houthi' drone attack?"

There has been no end to pretzel logic on this thread pointing in all possible scenarios including yours several times over.

Kind of weird if you ask me. What is wrong with the obvious story?
The Houthis who not only had extremely good reasons to do it, took credit for it, bragged about it and threatened more of the same did it.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 16:15 utc | 310

@Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 16:15 utc | 310

The article by b has this:


The hits were extremely precise. The Yemeni armed forces claimed it attacked the facility with 10 drones (or cruise missiles). But the hits on these targets look like neither. A total of 17 hits with such precise targeting lets me assume that these were some kind of drones or missiles with man-in-the-loop control. They may have been launched from within Saudi Arabia.

There is no information yet on the damage in Khurais, the second target of the attacks.

The U.S. and Israel are able to commit such attacks. Iran probably too. Yemen seems unlikely to have this capability without drawing on extensive support from elsewhere. The planing for this operation must have taken months.

Were you triggered when I said "Isreal"?

Posted by: librul | Sep 17 2019 16:21 utc | 311

Arby @310

What is wrong with the obvious story?

17 hits with 10 drones is a bit like 3 towers with 2 planes (not that the planes had anything to do with it).

Posted by: Norwegian | Sep 17 2019 16:25 utc | 312

l @ 311

Nope. Like I said, your twisted theory has been tried on this thread several times already as have been many other theories. The only one I have not read yet is aliens planned and executed it.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 16:26 utc | 313

The damage is precise yet limited.
Seems like possibly a warning shot.

Posted by: jared | Sep 17 2019 16:33 utc | 314


All seems to be too clean, ordered, brushed, dry to be the scene of such a terrible fire and destruction only some hours before, as if nothing really happens; probably the photos are fake as at least some part of the "emergency".

In fact I start to think that the drones did not make so much damage, or even if they arrived at the refinery at all

Something stinks in Denmark

Posted by: DFC | Sep 17 2019 9:20 utc | 263

The quality of the photo shop is a bit inferior, but is saying that it stinks is a bit cruel. It stands to reason that KSA wanted to control the images, and so did Americans, thus the "destruction" was added to the older photos, hopefully, in places where it actually occurred, well, more or less. The tidiness of the scene bespeaks of superb performance of the rescue services blah blah.

What makes the photos believable, up to a point, is that Clown Prince seems to stand in a lagoon of non-edible products of a pig farm, with just head above this non-edible stuff, and this is not an image that he would like to falsify. Moreover, the satellite photos will be available in any case, so the photoshop has to be a bit tidier than the reality, but not drastically different. But indeed, one should not use fine details in the analysis.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 17 2019 16:34 utc | 315

Norwegian @ 312
Number of hits and number of drones are all subject to questioning and probably how it was exactly done will always be up for speculation.
Likening that to the official 9/11 story is twisted.
For starters no one took credit for 9/11 among dozens and dozens of other questionable things.
Picking unverifiable numbers of drones and hits is not evidence enough to throw out what appears to be very obvious and admitted to.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 16:37 utc | 316

Dang, quite the debate in the bar. I generally agree that this was an Ansarallah attack, with assistance inside Saud-owned Arabia (it's been reported before that there's a definite "opposition" within Arabia; anyone remember the outcry over the execution of the Arabian Shia imam that brought to light the monarchy's systematic oppression of the Arabian Shia minority?). As far as the technology involved/required to pull this off, many have already pointed out that Ansarallah's capabilities have been steadily increasing-with most likely assists from Iran (whose own capabilities have been on the rise since their capture of the US "stealth" drone some years ago). That the usual imperial suspects would somehow try to plant disinformational seeds suggesting "false flags" is not surprising (post 9/11, such seeds now have fertile soil to grow in [another benefit of the 21st century Reichstag fire is now people will chase after any shadow put up by the imperial minions]); can't have the unwashed mob thinking that "savages" might be just as capable of hi-tech destruction as the Lords of Capital are. And as for the photographic "evidence" being presented to support the "17 hits (wow, that could be a great band name)" assertion, I can only respond by saying that Photoshop (and similar software) has been around for quite some time now.
Great reporting, b; many thanks.

Posted by: robjira | Sep 17 2019 16:47 utc | 317

vk @295--

Interesting speculation about Saudi defense doctrine has some merit, but IMO Saudi/UAE anticipated a quick victory over Houthi/Yemeni forces. UAE decided to withdraw froim the quagmire when it realized its strategic interests could be badly damaged and crippled for years. Clearly, the Saudis have had that reality impressed upon them, but as I wrote earlier can only redeploy current assets as a stop-gap and in no way can they defend all their very soft targets.

Laguerre @280--

I wrote about the possibility of a Houthi/Shia alliance leading to an internal revolt and the ouster of the al-Sauds from power and provided reasoning as to why such might occur. I also asked the question as to how far the Outlaw US Empire would go in defending the al-Sauds in such a revolt. Do note that Trump made his remarks to the press yesterday in the presence of Bahrain's ruling satrap, thus his coyness.

\\\\\\\\

I'm glad to see the skepticism put into the sat pics for determining BDA, but still await how the 17 hits were determined as that doesn't come from Houthi or any other regional media that I could find. As I noted last night, Brent crude price had already fallen $1 and that fall has continued to down a bit more than $3/bbl. Other benchmarks can be here; all with close to realtime pricing are down today. As some note, I'm sure a select few made big bucks off the price yoyo.

Tulsi Gabbard continues her verbal assault on the Washington DC Dotards from both parties who refuse to accept the reality of Houthi responsibility for its legitimate attack, which is but one of a series--and as noted above, they've put a date on their next one if a proper response isn't made seeking peace. In one of my above comments, I provided the urls to the Official Houthi Media outlets for the web and Twitter; and they also have a Facebook page that I didn't link to. I've read their Twitter for this morning and provide this link: "Will Saudi Arabia Stand 3rd Operation of Balanced Deterrence?" This article blasts the UN Special Rep Griffiths--"Griffiths from Peace Mediator to War Advocate"--and provides the unreported Houthi perspective that must become known. And this lengthy article is one not to ignore. A taster:

"Bukhaiti told Iran's Tasnim news agency that blaming the attacks on other countries shows 'cowardice' in facing up to the reality of Yemen's military power.

"'Saudi Arabia declared war against Yemen on the grounds that our missile inventory posed a threat to its security,' he said. 'Today, we are surprised to see that when we hit Saudi oil wells, they exonerate Yemen from conducting these strikes and accuse others of doing them.'

"'This is viewed as an own criminal decree of conviction. It also shows their cowardice,' Bukhaiti added."

Calling the Saudis cowards directly challenges MbS's manhood. Houthis know they now occupy a superior position having again placed the Saudi King in check.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 16:54 utc | 318

Speaking of laser guided accuracy: Yeah, Tulsi.
Trump thinks he's bad-ass, but Tulsi is real deal.

Posted by: jared | Sep 17 2019 17:17 utc | 319

@ Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 14:41 utc | 295

C'mon vk, I am talking about $$$ in large amounts, I am talking also about insurance, etc... all big companies need to have a complete emergency plan with the help of external infraestructures and trained with external police, firefighters, etc...KSA produce steadilly +10 millions barrels of oil per day, and there are a lot of foreign governments and corporations very interested that they continue to do so, even if the country is a thirld world country in other aspects.
In fact "first world country" US has a record of more big accidents than KSA as: Texas City (15 dead, 180 injured) or Norco in Lousiana (in the FCC unit), or Lemont Illinois, or Richmod California, Deep Water Horizon, Newcastle Delaware, Pampa Texas, Sterlington Lousiana, etc....

I repeat my argument again:

a) In all the videos I have seen in the night of the attack I could not see any firefighter truck, any police car, any sirens or blue or red lights flashing, any sound of police helycopters, it seems that there were not emergency response crews all around; if this happens in Texas or any other refinery in the world (I think also in KSA) there were a huge amount of people for emergency response all around and coming from external places to help the plant operators, blowing the sirens and with the flashing lights on inmediatelly after the start of the "incident", You cannot see, nor hear nothing at all

b) In the satellite photos of the next day (sept 15) I cannot see any water hose in the floor, any firefight truck near the burned area, any trace of water/foams used to cool down the installations and estructures, any debris, any sign of an emergency response to such huges fires all around. It was like all the systems used were cleared just the next day (around only 24h after the incident), where the emergency procedures normally establishes you have to remain alert and puting water in the place to avoid re-ignition of the source of fire, and have all the system ready to fight the fire again much more time.

All seems to be too clean, ordered, brushed, dry to be the scene of such a terrible fire and destruction only some hours before, as if nothing really happens; probably the photos are fake as at least some part of the "emergency".

Cheers

Posted by: DFC | Sep 17 2019 17:25 utc | 320

@303 Sid Finster

Okay, so now spin why Putin meets with Bibi Yahoo every second week, why he gives him even the time of day and why he shows so much love for MBS?

@301 Bob, bob, speaking of pipe line dreams.💤😂

Also, attacking Iran would make U.S./ME military base installations a perfect target and open season for Iranian missile testing.

Posted by: Circe | Sep 17 2019 17:26 utc | 321

Zarif's Powerful Tweets:

"US is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of 4.5 yrs of the worst war crimes wouldn't do all to strike back.

"Perhaps it's embarrassed that $100s of blns of its arms didn't intercept Yemeni fire.

"But blaming Iran won't change that.

"Ending the war=only solution for all."

And:

"Just imagine: The US isn’t upset when its allies mercilessly BOMB babies in Yemen for over 4 years—with its arms and its military assistance.

"But it is terribly upset when the victims react the only way they can—against the aggressor's OIL refineries."

IMO, the Outlaw US Empire, UK and Saudis lost this war in the eyes of the world quite awhile ago. Yet as is their wont, they continue to blaze their way deeper into the quagmire such that only more damage and grief will occur. Yes, I know it's a longshot, but I fervently desire the al-Sauds overthrow, the reversion to Jordan for Mecca and Medina's management for the Islamic world, and freedom for the Shia of Arabia and Bahrain, which will totally upend the geopolitical and geoeconomic chess boards and make possible their long-needed rearrangement.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 17:29 utc | 322

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 16:54 utc | 318

I wrote about the possibility of a Houthi/Shia alliance leading to an internal revolt and the ouster of the al-Sauds from power and provided reasoning as to why such might occur.
In theory that could be true. I don't know that the Houthis are that ambitious, more into defending their own patch. The Eastern Shi'a are somewhat beaten down, they didn't get any help when Awamiyah was besieged.

I also asked the question as to how far the Outlaw US Empire would go in defending the al-Sauds in such a revolt.
Not very far, I think. The US tends to prefer Sunnis, like the British did (for example imposing a foreign Sunni king on Mandate-period Iraq).

Posted by: Laguerre | Sep 17 2019 17:34 utc | 323

Trump, neocons, warmongers: IRAN!!!!!!

Others: Houthi!!!!!

Me: Um... well, it could be like 9-11 where it was allowed to happen and further damage was done for various purposes.

Everyone: IRAN!!!! Houthies!!! IRAN!!! Houthies!!! IRAN!!! Houthies!!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 17:46 utc | 324

The continuing lies just make the Outlaw US Empire look dumber and stupider than previously imagined:

"The senior official tells @CBSDavidMartin Saudi air defenses are all oriented south to protect against Houthi missile attacks from Yemen and were useless against missiles coming in from the north."

And:

"In addition to the wreckage, the forensic case will include radar tracks reconstructed after the fact that show the cruise missiles and drones coming out of Iran, per the senior official."

Whattayamean!? What happened to the realtime tracks that always get recorded!?

Comment from ensuing thread:

"Really? Let's have an air defense system but only use it to defend attacks coming from one direction cuz flying stuff can only fly straight and our enemies would never think to attack from our undefended side.

"Yeah...pull my other leg and it plays jingle bells."

For an excellent LOL, check this tweet!!

I wonder what the level of damage control will be after the next strike?

Oh, and another commentator noted on that thread,

"Two US Patriot systems are to be removed from Kuwait, one from Jordan and one from Bahrain — countries that have been central in countering the missile threat posed by Tehran and its allies in the Middle East. The systems will not be replaced, the report said."

Omitted is the news they are going to be redeployed to defend against Russia and China.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 17:54 utc | 325

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 17:46 utc | 323

Or, it could be simply the fact that American anti-air systems are garbage, and Saudi Arabia is a byzantine, inneficient and perdulary Third World State.

Have the Yemeni lost yet? It's been four years already.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 18:02 utc | 326

Short vid of Putin's trolling at yesterday's presser I hadn't seen is quite funny. Be sure to check out Zarif's and Rouhani's reactions!

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 18:30 utc | 327

A philosophical problem: there were airstrikes on the territories of states allied with USA, at least, having some treaties, military presence and assistance etc, Iraq and KSA, and in some cases American Administration does not care AT ALL who did it, and in some cases it does, produces theories, issues statements and so on.

A fantastic conspiracy theory: imagine that all defense system around the oil facility were perfect, but a high KSA official who is nowhere to be find at this writing informed the crews to ignore flying objects between 3:45 and 4 am as an Israeli attack on Iran that was approved by the Kingdom.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 17 2019 18:36 utc | 328

US release of enhanced satellite pics,just before market opening, plus a lot of other crap coming out of the US is most likely aimed at the UNGA meeting scheduled for sept 17. Zarif has been running circles around the US and I guess they are getting desperate to stop him.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 18:39 utc | 329

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 18:30 utc | 326 with the Putin vid

Thanks for that!!! What hoot.

I can't keep up with all your postings and links but do appreciate your efforts for us MoA barflies

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 17 2019 18:46 utc | 330

donkeytale | Sep 17 2019 16:01 utc | 307:

IMO, it depends on how one goes about implementing nationalism.   Unfortunately, most of the time it's called upon during times of duress.   Thus far, China seems to be the exception.   We'll see once they established their blue water Navy.


arby | Sep 17 2019 16:26 utc | 313:

I couldn't resist but it was aliens.   If you think about it, it was a good distraction while they carry out personnel rotation in their hidden base in Antarctica.

Posted by: Ian2 | Sep 17 2019 19:00 utc | 331

Aha,, lol

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 19:11 utc | 332

Bob@301
You are missing the point: the Empire is a maritime empire. It always has been. Any pipelines would have to run through Eurasia and be vulnerable to the burgeoning alliance between Iran, Turkey, Russia, China and the non puppet states in the Levant.

A User@195
You are absolutely right. It is a sure sign of idiocy not to understand that Yemenis are not only, as all men are, equal to any other nation's people but, in case anyone thinks that it matters, the inheritors of an extremely ancient and sophisticated urban civilisation

Posted by: bevin | Sep 17 2019 19:23 utc | 333

Reported by sputniknews.com: "Energy Minister Says Oil Supply Back to Normal After Attack on Saudi Aramco Facilities - Report".

Oil supply? Supply to the refineries or from them? In what way different from whatever else is meant to be "fully back online" at the end of the month? A meaningless statement?

Is the person saying that whatever was damaged (if anything) at the refineries has been fixed three days later?

With this level of "anti-information" we all become idiots :(

...

Propaganda is meant to be much more successful if it plays into what people already want to believe. In this case several different or opposing opinions can buy into a narrative of a successful attack (whatever it might have been and by whoever) despite disagreeing with each other over what any details are or might mean and what the consequences (if any) should be.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 19:47 utc | 334

@Jen 227
???? Absolutely not. The visible holes are not aligned perfectly enough. Furthermore, the mark on the firstly shot tank would not be similar to the one on the last tank.

@john Hanshaw 207
" The positioning of the holes is almost identical across all four targets, suggesting a quite extraordinary degree of accuracy and the probability of some type of pattern-recogition in the targeting. In contrast, if the missiles had been guided by a human, the penetration points would have been more haphazard."

I profoundly agree with the kinf of thinking which produce this analysis.
Similarity of holes positionning is likely not the consequence of randomness.
But, the GPS is a better option. It would equally create similar positionning, save for the effect of electronic noise, which coud make random offsets in the order of a few meters. It happens that, considering the thirty meters diameter of the tanks, we can see that there is that expected 2 or 3 meters random offset from the "perfectly similar" positionning.

On the other hand, pattern matching would have produced a binary outcome: either it works perfectly, and the positionning offset is not perceptible on the photos, either the pattern matching fails, and there is no hole.
To tell the whole, the pattern matching algorithm will designate the geometrical center of the perceived onion shape, for the missile to aim this center; Therefore, some lateral offset could be the effect of different missile headings in the last leg part of their respective flightpaths. But vertical offsets are harder to explain this way, since that would necessitate unrational differences of terminal gliding slope angle.

One point in favor of the pattern matching is that the onion shape is a very good object for pattern matching: 1) is is not sensitive to the heading of the incoming missile, 2) it is so simple it can be wholly described by only one mathematical parameter, its width/height ratio. This makes for a very robust and efficient algorithm 3) this shape doesn't exist anywhere else, therefore the risk of false recognition is zero

Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 17 2019 19:58 utc | 335

"It is doubtful that Trump or the Saudis are ready to risk such a response."

And why would Trump care? Because of the 2020 election? Given his level of support for the Saudis and Israel, I don't think the election matters as much as people assume.

The entire US administration and most of Congress - with the sole exceptions of a few people like Gabbard and Amash - have come down with blaming Iran for this attack.

How does Trump walk this back? Disavow his *entire* administration, disavow Saudi Arabia and Israel, disavow the Zionist clique in his administration and his own family, admit that the Houthis could do this on their own, then commit the US to attacking the Houthis to save Saudi Arabia - thus starting another "unnecessary Mid-east war" that everyone assumes he won't start because of the election? Or do all this and *not* attack the Houthis, thus proving him to be a lame President who can't defend an (allegedly) critical US ally? How does that help his election?

That ain't gonna happen.

Trump and his entire administration have talked themselves into a corner. He *has* to respond militarily against either Iran or the Houthis.

And what happens if the Houthis do this again - which they have said they *are* going to do, whether it involves a US war with Iran or not?

The Houthis can bury the Saudis with this technology. They can destroy the desalination water facilities that allow the Saudis to even pump oil! Maybe not permanently, but other than a major US-supported campaign (or buying a lot of Russian Pantsirs), how does Saudi Arabia stop them from doing it over and over?

The US *has* to attack someone over this - or the next time it happens.

And given that virtually everyone - except Trump (allegedly, which I don't believe is true) - wants a war with Iran, *despite* the likely consequences, why do people keep insisting that war with Iran is impossible because of...pick one...economic consequences, US military deaths, Mid-East disruption, high oil prices, blah, blah, blah?

When have these sorts of consequences ever stopped a war in history?

Get serious. War with Iran is inevitable. It's just a matter of timing. And with events like this Houthi attack, timing may be out of everyone's control.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 17 2019 21:02 utc | 336

RHS @336

How many threats has Trump made in the last couple of years which so far all turned out to be bluster?
I highly doubt that real voters have a problem with not starting wars.
I would guess that as you call it "a lame president" is just what would appeal to the average voter.

A phrase like "a lame president" sounds kind of propagandish to me.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 22:06 utc | 337

William Gruff sums it up nicely at @298...refinery tanks don't blow up very easily. A few dozen 500kg bombs or cruise missiles properly placed would set off a conflagration with some tank explosions, but the Houthis are using much smaller devices.

Posted by: J-Dogg | Sep 17 2019 22:17 utc | 338

Will be interesting to see if this comes to pass:

"Cruise missiles were used in Saturday's attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and the attack came from Iran, a US official cited by AFP has claimed.

The official, who declined to be named, told the news agency that the US was now gathering evidence about the attack to present at the UN General Assembly next week."

Sputniknews.com link.

The United Nations General Assembly started their 74th session a few hours ago on Tuesday 17th at 15:00 (NY, EDT) and will start the General Debate part 09:00 on the 24th lasting to the 30ieth.

I'm guessing they'll reveal their "evidence" some time during that if at all.

UN GA and UN GA GD.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Sep 17 2019 22:32 utc | 339

As I see the chessboard the US is now in the awkward position of being in check. Only two moves left.
Get with the 21st century program , or
Knock the board over and get into a very serious fight with someone who can actually fight back. That could get very nasty.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 22:50 utc | 340

I have pondered the situation and have the answer.
The attack was controlled and limited because it was false flag.
The houthis may have done but was with help from USrael.
This provides OJ with opportunity to claim he singlehanded averted war.

Posted by: jared | Sep 18 2019 0:41 utc | 341

Coming back to the credibility of the attack's report...

Being an engineer I did some maths on the incident. One of the gas tanks has an approximate gross volume of 4200 m². Assuming a filling of 50% this leaves about 2100 m² liquefied gas, a mixture of C1 to C5 hydrocarbons, most of which are heavier than air (only C1 and C2 hydrocarbons are lighter).
Taking propane (C3H8) as a representative for this mixture, one gas tank holds a total of approx. 116 tons of gas, this is approx. 630,000 m³ of heavy gas after evaporation. Releasing this amount of gas without ignition you could fill a cylinder of 50 m height and about 120 m diameter (6 times the tank diameter). Diluting this gas to the double of the lower explosion limit (2 * 1,7 Vol%) you would get a total explosive heavy gas volume of 18.5 million m³, able to fill a 50 m high cylinder with a diameter of more than 680 meters. This is 34 times the tank diameter.

Szenario 1:
If the tank got hit without ignition (quite improbable), due to the pressure loss the tank content would have started boiled heavily and would have sprayed out in a long jet stream toward the west/south west (due to wind), staying close to the ground (due to the gases density), before finding a source for an ignition - boom! You would expect to see traces of fire or an explosion on the west side of the tanks - but there are none. The tanks look clean as before the incident.

Szenario 2:
The tank got hit and the gas got ignited (more probable). Again: No traces of a long burning jet stream, no traces of a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE). Tanks look unharmed.


Conclusion: No tank was hit. The alleged attack is fabricated news by the US administration with a clear attempt to blame Iran.


Alternative explanation for the images:
Saudi Aramco released flamable liquid into the square shaped catch basin and set it on fire. Unfortunately, the spectacular smoke pillar cannot conceal the fact, that there is no smoke to be seen from the allegedly targeted tanks. The news of the attack drives up the oil price, Saudi Aramco reduces their output slightly but continues to sell less oil at a much better price than before, even without an OPEC agreement to cut production rates. This is a win-win-situation: Blame on Iran and more revenues for Saudi.

Overall conclusion: Yet another example for the flexible handling of truth by the US administration and its faithful, trustworthy Middle Eastern allies.

Greetings from Germany, MWL

Posted by: MWL | Sep 18 2019 6:01 utc | 342

Most shale 'oil' produced by the US is CONdensate,not oil.
As a cudgel against real oil producers it works just fine,but as a provider of the cracks needed by manufacturing and the MIC, it is simply of no use.
Too much Hannitty propaganda not enough thought by many people.

Posted by: winston2 | Sep 18 2019 15:21 utc | 343

something that bothers me about those sattelite images:
North is to the Left
ie the images should be rotated clockwise, so the holes in the tanks are actually NW, rather than SW.

This counters the neocon assertion that the attacks came from Iran/Iraq, and suggests that Yemen was indeed the origin (or possibly some northwesterly source ..)

It's almost as if whoever was in charge of spinning this effed up big time (ie turned the pics - or designated "North" - the wrong way), and had no idea where Iran, Iraq, Yemen (or Israel ..) are in relation to Saudi Arabia ...

Posted by: ziogolem | Sep 18 2019 15:49 utc | 344

@Circe: evidence please. Or are you perhaps exaggerating slightly?

Then let do us know when Russia sells missile defense systems to Israel.

Posted by: Sid Finster | Sep 18 2019 16:50 utc | 345

@ Kalof1 @ 327:

The fact that Putin made his trolling announcement at a presser with Rouhani and Erdogan simply underscores the trolling nature of his comments.

Unless you also think that the conspiracy is so vast and far-reaching, why, that Erdogan and Rouhani are part of it.

Posted by: Sid Finster | Sep 18 2019 16:52 utc | 346

Trump benefits from perception of avoidance of war.
U.S. and KSA benefit from increased oil price (FED to offset).
Minor cost to KSA - very clean.
Iran portrayed as aggressor.
Yemenis believe they executed attack but was with inside help.

Posted by: jared | Sep 18 2019 17:06 utc | 347

Cut paste NYT

Saudi Arabia Says Iran ‘Sponsored’ Attack as Trump Vows New Sanctions

ImageA satellite image of the Abqaiq processing plant in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. United States officials have blamed Iran for airstrikes there.
A satellite image of the Abqaiq processing plant in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. United States officials have blamed Iran for airstrikes there.CreditCreditPlanet Labs Inc, via Associated Press
By Richard Pérez-Peña
Sept. 18, 2019
Updated 12:19 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday promised new sanctions against Iran, and Saudi Arabia presented what it called evidence of Iran’s responsibility for aerial strikes on Saudi oil processing facilities.
---------------
A note from a perplexed immigrant: I do not recall the word "sponsor" in my English classes, but it is used a lot on radio, TV etc. like that "and now a short message from our sponsors". Apparently, apparently, the drones dragged banners advertising Iranian consumer goods companies, vacations in Iranian resorts etc. Adverting stickers were also found in the drone shards.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 18 2019 17:09 utc | 348

the attacks on the Saudi refinery facilities are still by far the most interesting news topic of the month as far as I am concerned


I expect that once the houthis (and the iranians) evaluate both the effectiveness of their most recent strike, and the Saudi/US reactions, that they will launch other successful attacks, perhaps at a totally different type of target

here's some more info at pressTV on Sept 18th from the spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/18/606531/Saudi-oil-strikes-perfect-example-of-Yemeni-forces-military-capabilities-Army-spox


"...Saree went on to say that various kinds of combat drones were used in the Second Deterrent Balance Operation, noting that they were launched from three different locations according to their flight endurance and designated targets.

He underlined that the third generation of domestically-designed and -manufactured Qasef (Striker) combat drones, long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) drones – which have an operational range of 1,500 kilometers to 1,700 kilometers and newly-developed drones equipped with jet engines.

Saree said each of the new drones can carry four precision-guided bombs with fissionable heads every time, and can monitor and hit their targets from several angles.

Other aircraft were also used so the main combat drones could hide in their shadow without being detected, and signal jamming devices effectively disabled the enemy’s air missile defense systems,” he said..."


these guys aren't just whistling dixie when they threaten the UAE as well

"...We hereby announce that dozens of targets in the UAE, namely in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are within our range. We urge the aggressors to stay away from Yemen if security and safety of their infrastructure and glass towers matter to them,” Saree concluded...."

Posted by: michaelj72 | Sep 19 2019 1:36 utc | 349

Some questions to hopefully experts:

Why did non of the 9 tanks explode that where allegedly hit? Where they all empty? Did those high accuracy drones have no explosive warhead? Did they just work as impactors? No explosive to save space for more fuel for the long ride? Or no explosiv to save the Saudis time and money to repair?

All the 9 impacts are on the west side of the tanks and all hits, if not photoshop, are almost at the exact same place of the tank with an extrem good accuracy within about 3 meters (the tanks are 28 meters in diameter according to Google maps).

With that accuracy they could have also hit the other tanks for crude, that would burn like hell for several days and thereafter would be maybe completely destroyed.

Is that true that LNG tanks can not explode?

What temperature develops a crude fire?

High enough to destroy, weaken a steel structure to complete damage?

If all that is true, than it just was a warning, and the damage could have been much greater.

Posted by: Andreas Walter | Sep 19 2019 12:56 utc | 350

Whew, #351-@17:29 28.09.2019(updated 18:34 28.09.2019)

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201909281076912517-unconfirmed-reports-say-houthis-attack-saudi-border-frontline/

I love this, cannot wait for the confirmation!

Posted by: Taffyboy | Sep 28 2019 15:47 utc | 351

@351 taffyboy.. that is quite the event, if true..

Posted by: james | Sep 28 2019 16:02 utc | 352

I put a link up on the open thread from Reuters about this and will repeat below along with take away quote

Yemen's Houthis say attacked Saudi border frontline, no immediate Saudi confirmation

The take away quote
"
Houthi-run Al Masirah TV quoted the spokesman as saying the Iran-aligned movement had captured “thousands” of enemy troops, including many officers and soldiers of the Saudi army, as well as hundreds of armored vehicles.
"

Reuters still calls the Houthi "the Iran-aligned movement" but we all know they lie like the rest of the MSM

Posted by: psychohistorian | Sep 28 2019 18:04 utc | 354

Footage Shows New Angle of Yemeni Drone Attacks on Saudi Aramco Oil Facility

https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/09/30/2107883/footage-shows-new-angle-of-yemeni-drone-attacks-on-saudi-aramco-oil-facility

Projectiles coming and hitting two of the tanks for pressurized (liquidized) gas are seen in the video.

Posted by: k | Oct 1 2019 23:55 utc | 355

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