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
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We must be on to something when dumbass comments appear.

A User @195: thinking for yourself is racist.

LOL.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 0:11 utc | 201

By the way.

Who is the biggest beneficiary of a full on Persian Gulf War?

Why - It's RUSSIA of course!

World's Biggest Oil Energy Exporters.

1. Saudi Arabia 446.9
2. Russia 360.4
3. Iraq 174.9
4. UAE 149.8
5. Kuwait 141.4
6. Iran 138
7. Canada 125.1

http://energyatlas.iea.org/#!/tellmap/-1920537974/2

If there was to be a Hot War in the Persian Gulf and oil and gas infrastructure is blown up - the biggest beneficiary is RUSSIA.

Second biggest beneficiary is Canada.

So if Trump was to go down the road of setting the whole region in flames (which I don't think he'll do) - he would be blamed for DOING RUSSIA's BIDDING!

Again.

Posted by: Julian | Sep 17 2019 0:12 utc | 202

I am having a real hard time making the logic work on this story, The photos are full of questionable details.
What if the Yemeni is coat tailing on a self inflicted Saudi psy-op?

The initial reporting has the site blown to hell and needing Many Months to repair, But the photos are NOT showing the level of damage that sort of reporting would require... Then there is the Fire.... The videos of it all show a huge black plume of smoke... But the point of the fire is Not in the actual places they said were hit... Then the way too accurate impact points shown... No proof of REAL imagery just claims of this or that... and a real absence of fire damages at those locales...

After a few HOURS of this sort of questioning i became sure the whole thing was done By Saud for the boost in oil price... The IPO smoke is not fooling too many right thinking folks... So More Lies on patrol... and little actual confirmations either way...

Stinks of a trick at every point on the compass around it.

Posted by: Masher1 | Sep 17 2019 0:13 utc | 203

On the lighter side:
A zerohedge post from Howdy Doody:
"Trump will have his proof of Iranian involvement. Israel just happened to have a surveillance satellite on station around the time of the attack. They have released high resolution images that show Iranian cruise missiles just about to hit their targets.
https://ic.pics.livejournal.com/diana_mihailova/78277673/2493481/2493481_900.jpg
Game on!"

Posted by: frances | Sep 17 2019 0:16 utc | 204

@ Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 23:23 utc | 188

In my opinion, this Scott Ritter guy is in denial. In denial over the fact that American technology is behind Russian technology when it comes to air defenses.

Assume the Houthis are lying. In that case, lying would only be useful as leverage in a negotiation table with the USA and Saudi Arabia in one scenario: if both countries don't know the Houthis are lying. That is because the Houthi only leverage possible against Saudi Arabia is its capability to destroy Saudi oil infrastructure. If said capability didn't exist, the war would've been going on and we wouldn't have been having this conversation to begin with.

If Israel or Saudi Arabia did a false flag (with explosives etc. etc.), then it is given they know the Houthis are lying, therefore the Houthis are either stupid or were double crossed by Iran.

To simplify the situation, let's discard the possibility Iran gave the Houthis false intel because that would be an epic unforced error by the Iranians. Besides, Iran has already come public to corroborate with the Houthi version of the story so this speculation is fruitless either way.

That leaves us with two serious possibilities: either the USA/Saudi Arabia don't know if the Houthi version is true or not or they do, but they also know it wasn't a false flag.

If the first is true, then Trump's version is true, which means both Saudi Arabia and the USG itself are literally lost on how to react. If true, that would be truly humiliating for both countries, since it's a demonstration their weapons and logistics are innefective against a undeveloped enemy and, most important, against Iran. Iran is the most important because the USA relies on a ring of "allies" in the Rimland to contain China and Russia. Its legitimation as the "first among equals" emanate from the assumption it is they, not China-Russia, that are the future of Humanity (or progress, or freedom, etc.). If Iran can retaliate at will, then that would mean the USA is not blessed by God, i.e. it doesn't have the ultimate arbiter of brute force (invincibility) on its side.

If the second is true, then they are trying to kill two birds with one stone in my opinion. The Houthis are not revolutionary socialists: they are for sale. Saudi Arabia can literally sit with them and negotiate a peace on at least neutral terms in relation to the geopolitical chess. Aramco would be permanently safe. But the fact the USA is trying to shift the blame on Iran either way hints us the Americans have other intentions in mind: hot war? Revive the sanctions? I don't know -- maybe its one of those typically American serendipities where a random POTUS tries to sell his own doctrine of the hour while trying to get reelected. Maybe Iran orbiting towards China's sphere of influence presents a more urgent matter to the Americans than a temporary set back to Aramco.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 0:16 utc | 205

I don't think Trump will do anything. Those chest thumpers ain't attacked anybody since ol Putin stuck his nose in Syria.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 0:17 utc | 206

Concentrating for a moment on the four 'onions' that have been penetrated as detailed in the second photo, two very crucial points jump out at me:

(1) Whatever went in there was configured to puncture some pretty sturdy metal and must have been traveling fast - they carried no explosive charge and therefore should, presumably, still be inside. Couldn't be a simple drone and was more likely a guided missile designed to cleanly penetrate light armour.

(2) 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.

Posted by: John Hanshaw | Sep 17 2019 0:21 utc | 207

The Houthi military is calling it Operation Balanced Deterence.

LOL!

Would happened to have the Arabic translation of this made FOR and BY Zionist media Americanism?

I have been watching this Yemeni drone psyop at MoA for years now. Not a single shred of confirmable evidence has ever been presented by b or anyone else and I've personally written post debunking obvious sham propaganda pieces/pictures etc.

Globalists control both sides of the war in Yemen. They've blamed everything and everyone from old Russian scuds to Medievil tribesmen to Iran; whatever suits their purposes. I'm glad to see such a large number of posters aren't buying it but as per usual the core sayanim who occupy this site are working hard to create and sustain patently and quite obviously false narratives.

Posted by: M I 6 or M I 7? | Sep 17 2019 0:22 utc | 208

vk
In Ukraine, US radars were good enough to pinpoint point rebel artillery position and give accurate coords for return fire by the ukies. Drones would be far easier to spot than artillery projectiles.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 0:24 utc | 209

GPS technology is available everywhere, likely launches took place from Saudi occupied provinces in the South, final guidance from Shia resistance forces close by to the targets. No Israeli involvement.

Posted by: Mike | Sep 17 2019 0:28 utc | 210

I've looked everywhere and cannot find any basis for b's assertion that the ten drones scored 17 hits. Official Houthi Media Twitter page has no mention of 17 hits that I was able to find in its initial announcements. Official Houthi Media website has zero mention of seventeen (17) hits. A Yandex search using both 17 and seventeen got nothing. Eventually b will hopefully read this and provide an answer.

Each drone carries multiple munitions, so a greater total than 17 hits is quite possible. Clearing up this aspect of b's report would be nice and make BDA easier.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 0:34 utc | 211

reply to
"Glenn @90:
Will this attack really benefit Netanyahu's election chances?

Yeah, I think so. On the eve of war with Iran, many Israelis might be swayed to vote for the candidate that's been preparing for that war for the last decade and promises that he's got the contacts (in USA, Russia) to make sure that it goes Israel's way.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 16 2019 23:24 utc | 190

Maybe not, not this time. Because war is a constant and always has been. But the risk of Israel becoming a religion run state is a real threat to the majority who are not tied to Israeli fundamentalism. Bibi's alliance with the fundamentalist religious party that is pushing no military service to continue for its membership as well as total religious law, segregated buses for example is no what the mainstream Israeli wants and they may make that clear in the election. At least I fervently hope they will.

Posted by: frances | Sep 17 2019 0:35 utc | 212

THe Houthis previously launched attacks on Dammam and other areas just as distant from Yemen. Just last month the Saudis were threatening to bomb the Houthi drone factories yet now the US and Saudis are saying the Houthis are incapable of launching such a sophisticated attack...be careful what you wish for. If the Iranians decide to attack the Saudi oil infrastructure it would be wiped out in less than 24 hours.
The holes at the top of the egg-shaped tanks are likely to be the result of over-pressure within the tanks rather than evidence of direct strikes on the tanks. A direct strike on one of those tanks would have resulted in a massive explosion of the tank.

Posted by: Othello786 | Sep 17 2019 0:36 utc | 213

@ Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 0:24 utc | 209

War isn't a Top Trumps game. There are a lot of variables involved.

Didn't the Houthis attacked a Saudi airport in Riad some months ago?

Five years ago, no Saudi imagined they could be attacked from Yemen. It's not far fetched to think their refineries weren't as well protected as they should for a military target.

But they clarest evidence the Houthis have capacity to cripple Saudi oil export capacity is the fact they are still alive. Had they not said capacity, the ferocious siege by the Saudis/UAE/Qatar would continue as they were.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 0:41 utc | 214

Earlier I referred to the Saudi's as being meat in the sandwich and being a bit reluctant to play that role. Any war or strikes on Iran means the destruction of KSA and they know it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-tells-saudi-arabia-oil-attacks-were-launched-from-iran-11568644126
"On Monday, Mr. Trump said he is not yet considering military options and that he expects Saudi Arabia to play a central role in any response.

“The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this, if we decide to do something,” he said."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 0:41 utc | 215

karolf1 @188 very good deduction..
have a look explanation a model 9/11 attack?

Posted by: snake | Sep 17 2019 0:49 utc | 216

vk

I think there are two parts to this. One is the houthi strike which occurred and damaged the oil installations. Second part is the eleven pressure tanks or spheres. These would put the plant completely out for operation for some time if hit.

"War isn't a Top Trumps game. There are a lot of variables involved." As in who will push for war with Iran no matter the cost. The spheres are either doctored photos or were hit in a second strike after being emptied, by a party wanting US to attack Iran.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 0:56 utc | 217

@ A user 195, Thanks for setting the record straight with your observations. The houthis have demonstrated much resilience and ingenuity. And I suspect they're not done. The posters trying to explain away the latest event are probably the same one's believing Trump is playing multi-dimensional chess. Nobody forced Chump to renege on JCPOA and the United States signature (Since 2015 Trump accused Barack Obama of treasonous sold out against the United States and Israel for having signed the deal), in the process destroying what little credibility was left of america. As I recall, Chump in 2017 already sold 11 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum reserves at a loss; I suppose it could always get better in terms of winning, the great negotiator could bankrupt the United States...

Posted by: Sol Invictus | Sep 17 2019 1:11 utc | 218

KSA is just a giant with feet of clay...

Posted by: Mikee | Sep 17 2019 1:12 utc | 219

@195 a user... you sure sound like debs is dead.. either way - i agree with you.. the most obvious answer is often times the correct one.. the houthis are responsible.. they say so... the usa want to throw it onto iran - for obvious reasons... pile of bs as i see it..

Posted by: james | Sep 17 2019 1:15 utc | 220

It would not be beyond the capability of the US to offer up some fake satellite photos. As some have pointed out those nice holes on the spheres would have been blowtorches leaving behind a record of burn. Fire creates wind as it sucks in O2 to combust and those spheres would have been scorched unless they were empty. Even then they are never completely empty unless purged with nitrogen.

10 launches and 17 hits is interesting. One would think that a few might miss their target, fail in flight, or get combusted or set off course from the other fires nearby going into target. One drone dropping multiple munitions? Maybe?

It is enough for one side to declare war on Iran and the other side to declare victory against Saudi Arabia. Why should I buy the BS from either side sitting 12,000 miles away on the other side of the planet?

The US is still not in position to go to war against Iran anytime soon. It would take a massive effort. The Saudis are on thin ice in the desert. Imagine the Shia getting all that nice modern weaponry sitting in Saudiland. Iran is an immovable object in a churning cyclone.

Posted by: dltravers | Sep 17 2019 1:17 utc | 221

@ 190 212 Jackrabbit

While I'm not an expert in Israeli politics, I doubt many people in Israel actually believe Netanyahu is remotely competent to win a real war. As you point out yourself, Israel's (and specifically Netanyahu's) attempt to destroy Syria has turned into a debacle. The reason the Blue and White party is giving Netanyahu some serious competition is because it's led by real generals, who have a better claim to know something about war than Netanyahu does.
The Israelis are classic bullies. They love beating up weak opponents who can't fight back like the Palestinians, but they would never dare get into a real war with a strong enemy like Iran. Netanyahu hasn't been preparing for war with Iran for a decade. He's been trying, unsuccessfully, to get the US into a war with Iran, while telling the Israelis that they wouldn't be involved in such a war. But unless you are absolutely, 100% sure this was really a false flag, then attacks like this one show the US can't defend Israel anymore than it can defend Saudi Arabia. And the Israeli public can't be sure it was a false flag. So the only way this could work politically for Netanyahu is if he could somehow persuade the Israeli electorate that this was an Israeli false flag.

Posted by: Glenn | Sep 17 2019 1:26 utc | 222

Yet what is the US expected to do? There must be a response, something that will tell Iran and the rest of the world that such an attack cannot be tolerated.

Yet attacks against Yemen's infrastructure and the resulting starvation of their population can be tolerated?

Posted by: rcentros | Sep 17 2019 1:28 utc | 223

snake @216--

No, I wasn't implying a false flag attack. IMO, Houthis carried out another strike in what they describe as Balanced Deterrence and have announced they plan a third as I suggested they would. What I do question is the damage supposedly depicted in the photos and where the idea that 17 hits were scored by the ten drones--and--this is but one of the five distinct targets of the overall complex--field and refinery. Furthermore, no Houthi announcement of the types of munitions used was made. Indeed, the information provided by Houthi sources is very thin as ought to be expected, although more might be released in Arabic than English. Atop the admission of ground support was the use of two different propulsion units on the drones, but that was all.

vk @205--

Ritter isn't in denial; he's questioning the media and thus the government as he knows such an array would detect any such attack coming over the Gulf from Iran.

I find it funny in an odd manner that so much is being made over this strike as I opined earlier since nothing of the sort occurred after earlier sorties. In this instance, Saudi couldn't hide the damage inflicted, so the only thing to do was spin what happened. After the initial spike in oil price, all grades are now sharply down, Brent down $1 after its opening for example. No immediate attack on Iran is being factored in by Big Money. What will happen after further assessment is unknown, but an upward trend is likely. When the Houthis make their third attack, if its a success the price will increase again. If the Saudis did this to get oil back @$100/bbl then they failed, but I don't think they did this at all as they need every cent of cash flow they can generate. Sauds no motive; Iran no motive; Zionists and allies no motive as proper evidence can't be faked to convince Trump no matter how much they squeal; that leaves the Houthis who have motive, means and opportunity plus they confessed to an act of defensive war so there's no crime other than the initial aggression by Saudi and company.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 1:38 utc | 224

I have enjoyed and greatly appreciated the comments by those people who conclude that this was a strike by the Houthi, exactly as claimed, and more successful in its command of reality than any of the ethereal "whodunit" theories now abounding.

I don't know why so many people are so desperate to find a different cause. All the trolls who flooded in here, and the regular moles desperately trying to spin their rabbit holes to obfuscate the issue, serve to show how rattled the established powers are by the clean and unanswerable success of the Houthi.

We always see extra trolls brought on shift when military actions are the topic, and this particular action was historic. One simple yet fiercely elegant tactical action and an entire strategy is manifested in the theater.

I salute the Houthi as great warriors. They have shown themselves over time and now as among the most successful fighters in the entire region. And the enemy must simply come to accept this fact, when all the denial dies down and only the enemy's sheer impotence is left to contemplate.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 17 2019 1:41 utc | 225

Masher1 @203:

i became sure the whole thing was done By Saud for the boost in oil price...

I'm thinking that Masher1 is mostly right.

The Houthies may have attacked but the precision and damage abnormalites point to an effort to make a limited attack into a big disaster.

Cui bono:

The Saudis
Can sell oil on storage at a higher price.

USA frackers (or more precisely, their financial backers)
Get a stealth bailout.

Netanyahu
Gets elected.

Neocons
Get a (anti-Iran) propaganda victory. Maybe Bolton had to go because he pressed for going further - a real war.

USA-Israel-Saudis principals (Trump, Bibi, MbS) each benefit ... so they each likely had a hand in it.

I would guess that Netanyahu suggested this hybrid false-flag after he failed to win enough votes in the March election. The "locals" that worked with the Hoothies may be CIA/Mossad. They convinced the Hoothies that an attack like this could be successful and IMPORTANTLY set the date for the attack.

<> <> <> <> <> <>

Until/unless a war develops, this would be my baseline theory.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 1:49 utc | 226

John Hanshaw @ 207:

Is it possible that the penetration points on those egg-shaped domes are lined up the way they are because the drone or missile (or whatever it was) used went straight through them?

If there are exit points on the opposite sides of the domed structures to the entry points, those exit points can't be seen due to the angle of the camera when the photo was taken.

Whatever hit them, surely by now any pieces or wreckage of it must have been found by now.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 17 2019 1:49 utc | 227

follow-up @226

Or, more likely, Bolton was kept in the dark but Trump knew that Bolton would press for full-scale war so he had to get rid of him before the fire works.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 1:51 utc | 228

Grieved @225--

Read your reply to arata and agree. I've expressed my quibbles and opined at length. As reported by the official Houthi Media, Saudi continue its air strikes, so the 3rd Balanced Deterrence attack will commence at some point, and they'll continue as long as Saudi rains bombs on Houthis.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 1:52 utc | 229

#223

US can't do anything. Their enemies in the ME, even small outfits like the Houthis, are too dangerous to fight head-on without the US military risking losing their "cult of invincibility".

Posted by: JW | Sep 17 2019 1:58 utc | 230

@166 Laguerre - "It wasn't too bright of the Houthis to admit to having had help."

I agree with your whole comment, but this point I think is worth looking at more.

I don't believe that any words in the Houthi statement were carelessly chosen. And when I read that statement, it seemed to evoke the most compelling piece of all in the overall strategy. Why would the Houthi reveal this fact, and employ those words as the weapon they undoubtedly are, unless that weapon is ready to be used again and again, and holds a tactical advantage over the enemy?

The strike itself was such a superb action, and the statement itself seemed crafted to form part of that killing blow, so why would it be less than meticulously pondered in advance? I do accept that the Sauds will take Shi'a heads to pay for this, but I do not believe they will do this with impunity. They may unwittingly fuel the internal escalation, and the Houthi strike and statement may even be the clarion call to mark this milestone.

I don't want to speculate, but I hope to see further analysis of this point coming from ME commentators.

My assumption from the statement was that, not only is there is a great force of resistance within Saudi Arabia, but also that is it very close to the point where it will come into the open. At least, this seemed the very obvious implication from the Houthi statement.

I have assumed all along the presence of Iranian advisers - even if as nothing more than the liaisons of allies - in this Houthi warfare in various, currently unclear ways. I assumed great thought went into the Houthi statement. None of the Shi'a axis of resistance is operating alone and friendless. Only the enemy is alone and friendless, each in its little pocket of fragile power. The rest of the region is brotherly. So there is a vast amount of strategic and tactical wisdom on tap for any of the axis to use.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 17 2019 2:07 utc | 231

Meanwhile, Trump's being coy on Iranian involvement as he sat in the Oval Office with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa:

"'Well, it’s looking that way ...'We’ll let you know definitively. ... That’s being checked out right now.'"

As already ascertained, there's no evidence of Iranian involvement. With Trump, Pompeo and others going to Saudi soon, expect the Houthis to time their next attack to be delivered then--if not directed at their meeting venue.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 17 2019 2:08 utc | 232

Peter AU 1
The radars the US gave to the Ukies are counter-battery radar systems designed to be used specifically with artillery systems for the purpose of accurate return artillery fire. They are extremely short-ranged systems with very specific functions. They wouldn't be effective for detecting drones. Most radars aren't reliable for spotting drones. The best probably being the radar suites that accompany the second edition Pantsir units, and only when the drones are within a 25mile radius...the Sauds don't have any of those.

Posted by: Hassaan | Sep 17 2019 2:10 utc | 233

I'm with Grieved @225. Enough FUD..

Posted by: Lozion | Sep 17 2019 2:10 utc | 234

"Outside experts," like some commenters, believe that the Yemenis are just too stupid to pull this off (even though they did). . .from an NPR report, some quotes--
>experts say the types of targets chosen within the facility, both in number and type, suggest a level of sophistication difficult to explain without Iranian involvement.
>Whoever did it knew what the right towers were,
> extreme doubts that we have anywhere close to the range to target the facility from Yemen [despite the UN report from experts who thought otherwise]
>"Would the Houthis be capable of flying a single drone or two drones into Abqaiq? I would say yes," Hinz says. "But would they be able to conduct such a vast coordinated mission to strike the facility with so much success? I would honestly say no. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 17 2019 2:13 utc | 235

another followup to @226

Also of note: the gains from this oil price manipulation allow Saudis to fund Trump's Palestinian "Deal of the Century" as well as the purchase of additional US weapons systems.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 2:28 utc | 236

Mike Pompoopo has been conferring with a succubus and now has proof Iran did it.
Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Sep 16 2019 19:06 utc | 100

Typical thinly founded speculation, My T-Bear. A typical methodology for founding revelation is to pull them out of the arse, and thus the source or stimulation can be an incubus.

-----

A more serious speculation is how drones could be launched from within the Kingdom. Transporting precious drones --- unique design etc. --- through the desert seems foolishly risky. But a caravan of small trucks with fuel would not look different that the usual local traffic, and drones could land somewhere in the desert and get refueled. OTOH, I have some doubts about local human control. One expertise that USA has is collecting signals, thus silent methods seem safer, particularly if you want to repeat this type of attack. Capability to do it once is not a decisive game changer, but capability of doing it many time is. Local control can be traced and eliminated from the future use.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 17 2019 2:35 utc | 237

The strike scored a direct hit on the Petrodollar.

The latter arose from an agreement in the '40s between the USA and the House of Saud. The USA would protect Saud and Saud would sell oil exclusively in greenbacks.

Now that it is obvious the US cannot protect Saud, Saud must be thinking of ways to increase his popularity. Selling oil in more than one currency is an obvious response to the problem.

Posted by: Gordon Pratt | Sep 17 2019 2:57 utc | 238

Jen@227
You make a good point - if all the 'onions' got penetrated in the same place by the same missile it would have been traveling very low and parallel to the ground and, since all the holes look the same size, the missile must have kept its shape through 7 impacts. Additionally, that would suggest it was fired at close range since otherwise it would likely have impacted some other object on the way in.

In fact we should probably be skeptical about the photo.

Posted by: John Hanshaw | Sep 17 2019 3:04 utc | 239

@Grieved | Sep 17 2019 1:09 utc | 132

“I don't know why so many people keep looking for any other cause except the Houthi.”

That is effect of MSM hurricane. There was a leak of UAE intelligence briefing, which was advising SA do not publish details of damages, there was 155 drone attack in a year, no need to give details, it will make image of Huthi stronger.

“Did the same thing happen in 2006 when the Israelis lost to Hezbollah?”

Exactly. MSM claimed Israel won the war!

Posted by: arata | Sep 17 2019 3:15 utc | 240

Saudis inviting international experts to help investigate the incident. Wonder if Russia is on the list.

As for the onion pressure tanks I am thinking they all popped a cork for some reason. Overpressured perhaps.

Posted by: the pessimist | Sep 17 2019 3:50 utc | 242

The hits keep coming-- from Newsweek...
Russia Offers Saudi Arabia Same Missile Defense It Sold Iran After U.S. Systems Fail to Stop Attack

Russia has offered to sell Saudi Arabia the same missile defense it sold Iran and Turkey after U.S. systems failed to detect or intercept a recent attack on key oil sites in the kingdom.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday his country was "ready to provide appropriate assistance to Saudi Arabia" in the wake of attacks claimed Saturday by the Yemeni Zaidi Shiite Muslim rebel group known as Ansar Allah, or the Houthis, against the Abqaiq oil-processing site and Khurais oil field. Putin said Saudi Arabia could better protect itself "by making a wise state decision, as Iran has already done in buying the S-300 Russian missile system and as [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has already done in buying the S-400 Russian missile system."
. . .The U.S. has an extensive network of military assets in the Persian Gulf region separating Iran from Saudi Arabia and its allies on the Arabian Peninsula, including several Patriot missile defense systems. These weapons have failed to intercept previous Houthi strikes closer to the battlefield in the west, nor did they prevent the latest attacks deep in Saudi Arabia's east.. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 17 2019 3:50 utc | 243

Put the Houthi up there with Hezbollah. This was a coup de gras delivered straight at the heart of Saudi survival also, the Achilles heel of the corrupt kingdom that deserves to go down in flames. David has wounded Goliath.

In the past few months, the Houthi and Iran have played brilliant strategy.

Posted by: Circe | Sep 17 2019 4:15 utc | 244

@Roger Wilco | Sep 16 2019 20:19 utc | 129

Why hasn't anyone suggested that this may be another Mossad op?

Because it's not in Israel's interest to remind the world what would happen to gas prices if a major war broke out in the Middle East. Israel (and all the rabid Zionists and neocons) clearly want an attack on Iran -- and the oil spike to $72 a barrel is making serious conflict less likely, not more. Thus I doubt that the Abqaiq strike is Mossad's fault.

Posted by: Cyril | Sep 17 2019 4:44 utc | 245

M I 6 or M I 7? | Sep 16 2019 11:36 utc | 14

I believe I remember reading that Iran is now producing more engineering graduates than USA. And Yemen used to have industrial factories prior to the aerial bombings by KSA.
Furthermore, the barbarism with which the House of Saud treats its Shia nationals, in the Eastern Region, manufactures plenty of potential spies or saboteurs.
All we really know is that no-one should waste money on American defense systems.
Cui Bono - almost everybody

Posted by: necromancer | Sep 17 2019 5:13 utc | 246

Iran is watching Trump's behavior......any sign of growing a pair and Iran will immediately snip them.......under 10 minutes.....that's all it would take Iran to undo Trump's monkey land existence. He's in no position to take on Iran.

Posted by: Nick | Sep 17 2019 5:19 utc | 247

The precise positioning of the damage at almost identical locations on the large photo is suspicious. It is not practical for drones to be so precise. Why didn't the tanks explode?

Posted by: Ian | Sep 17 2019 5:20 utc | 248

225 "conclude that this was a strike by the Houthi, exactly as claimed"

North yemen military generally show case new weapons in public presentations. I take it for granted that they launched ten drones exactly as stated which did a great deal of damage to Saudi facilities.
To hit the 11 pressure tanks along with the other six points of obvious damage would require larger reaper style drones to carry rockets or bombs of sufficient size for the 17 hits. North yemen only have as far as I know, smaller drones that could only carry one charge per unit of sufficient size.

So we can believe that Yemen was truthfull about the strike, but lied about the number of drones, or Yemen was factual on numbers but the sat pics supposedly de-classified by Trump have been enhanced, or that a third party interested in a US attack on Iran conducted an opportunistic second strike.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 5:24 utc | 249

Peter AU1 -

Or the 11 pressure tanks were NOT hit. The damage may be from pressure relief valves because of damge to other plant facilities? That might explain the symmetrical pattern marks on all 11 tanks.

PS - At least two, maybe four hits at Khurais would make it 19 or 21 hits, not 17. So at least eight, and maybe all ten drones hit targets. Not bad, what?

Posted by: GeneO | Sep 17 2019 5:45 utc | 250

@112 Granil

The US regime has the resources to rapidly close the AA defense gap.

A long time ago I worked for BAE Dynamics, so I know about the design life cycle of these types of systems, "rapidly" in this instance would be at least a decade from initiation of the project to specification (including specialized vehicles for transport / launch), design, testing (rad-hard etc), development of the training simulator, training personnel and finally delivery.

Posted by: TJ | Sep 17 2019 6:05 utc | 251

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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019

The obvious real meaning is that Trump does not intend to react, and that he is passing the buck to Saudi who he knows very well also dare not react.

Posted by: BM | Sep 17 2019 6:09 utc | 252

Good thing the US rushed extra troops, Intel and air defenses to “the kingdom” back in May to counter these “Iranian” threats.
KSA defense spending is ranked third in the world as % of GDP too.
What was all of that defense doing?
We also know Israel monitors Iran as if their lives depend on it.
Pearl Harbor indeed, as in many knew it was coming and allowed it or it was another false flag to get the war going.

Posted by: Benny | Sep 17 2019 6:09 utc | 253

Trying to find the origin of the "declassified" sat images.
This is all I can find "The images, provided by the US government to the Associated Press,..."

This initial piece from Zero Hedge was interesting... "And there it is, moments before oil markets open: upon the US release of declassified satellite images showing precision strikes on critical spheroids at the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq one market analyst alarmingly writes,...)

And this... "The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in August had identified that region as the plant's stabilization area. That zone included "storage tanks and processing and compressor trains — which greatly increases the likelihood of a strike successfully disrupting or destroying its operations,"

The possibly or possibly not damage to the spheres that show no blackening may well be somebody playing the markets rather than drumming up a war.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 6:11 utc | 254

The North heading on the photo posted by @60 is correct. I already had studied this question on GoogleMaps.

Googlemaps also shows it would be seemingly impossible to laser paint the tank from a building located west of the target. The cause is the tanks will be hidden by larger cylindric tanks, which are close, although they could not be seen on the photo.

Posted by: Parisian Guy | Sep 17 2019 6:23 utc | 255

it was definitely a houthi attack. there is a whole lot of attempts at looking at the minute details, the five w's as taught as if it is some sort of law, but one needs to look at it from a insider's perspective and one that both sides know well in their own hearts.

the attack first and foremost says to the saudi government... we could hit your headquarters if we wanted to but we will let you sleep well for tonight.

that alone would bring normal people to the peace table, but we know how clowns and their allies act. going back to the eternal foreign policy narrative of iran is the threat, as if iran couldn't do one better than what the yemenis just did. i don't like to cheer on any attack but a counter, and a defensive one at that, without any deaths, warrants admiration from any decent strategists not thirsting for more war and i am by far not even close to a pacifists.

a lot of comments seem to be like spectators used to seeing sports. lusting for blood. i think the yemenis are the last ones looking for more war. and i applaud their message to someone like MBS, someone who thinks he can get away with murder. i admire them more now because not only did they give their enemies a way out of this debacle, but they also included the calculations that even though MBS might be a pos, the person who comes after him could be worse. simply grand.

Posted by: jason | Sep 17 2019 6:40 utc | 256

PUTIN ENDORSES NETANYAHU FOR RE-ELECTION – SHOIGU AND LAVROV REACT

By John Helmer, Moscow

9-15-19

On Friday afternoon in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin kept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting for three hours, and then publicly endorsed him for re-election. Putin’s endorsement was unconditional: he could have warned against Netanyahu’s election pledge, revealed last week, to annex the West Bank of Palestine, but he didn’t. Putin could have warned against Israeli air force and missile strikes on targets in Syria, but he didn’t. “We have absolutely identical positions,” Putin declared, according to the official Kremlin record. Putin was speaking only for himself.

That was made plain to Netanyahu during the Sochi session by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Kremlin publication, however, cut them out of the photographic record and official communiqué, as if they weren’t there at all.

Posted by: pogohere | Sep 17 2019 7:23 utc | 257

The next strike as promised by the Yemen air force will likely be aimed at toppling MBS (bonesaw man) and hopefully will succeed. One thing is for sure the Yemen air force has established itself as a mighty good thinking, fighting force. It has entirely neutered the colonial ambitions of Saudi Kingdom and now stands ready to eliminate al qaida and Isis in Yemen. Anyone fighting and winning over the headchoppers is a human rights defender and anyone funding the headchoppers is a Holocaust supporter.

There must be strong medicine in those dragon blood trees. No wonder they were highly prized for millenia.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 7:30 utc | 258

A couple of thoughts:

1) There doesn't seem to me to be much point arguing that anyone other than the Houthi are responsible for this. After all, they are claiming responsibility for it, and it is demonstrably true that they have a track record of launching well-deserved retaliatory attacks into Saudi Arabia.

2) I don't really believe those photos. The level of uniformity rules out commercial GPS guidance, also remote-control guidance by Houthi agents on-site. Plus all they appear to have done is blow a neat hole into the structure, which is not what I would have expected (you know, klabooooooooom!!!!).

3) Trump appears to be walking back the "locked and loaded" tweet, and Pompous appears to have been told to STFU. I suspect that Trump's bolshie attitude did not survive the first JCOS briefing (Yes, Mr. President, we can bomb Iranian refineries. No Sir, we can not stop Iran from obliterating the Saudi refineries in retaliation. That's correct, Mr. President, the total cessation of all ME oil supply into the foreseeable future. Yes, Mr. President, the world's economy would indeed be, as you say, f**ked.)


Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 17 2019 7:31 utc | 259

In this media hubbub of finding the culprit what is less noticed is that “ the emperor” is naked. Is there a child in the room to shout? Where were radars, where were patriot system? 
How they are going to deter the next attack? Huthi has given another warning again:


“ If the coalition of aggression does not listen to the voice of wisdom to stop aggression, if we do not see The UN envoy Martin Griffith in Sana with positive message and practical steps, in next two days, then  September 21 the anniversary of revolution is on the doorstep, and third deterrence action will occur. It could crunch another half of Saudi oil and consequences would be disastrous for Saudi and supporters.”

Posted by: arata | Sep 17 2019 7:51 utc | 260

John Helmer's site is full of redirects, I have stopped going there.

I don't know what he was smoking in this case. Here is a different take.

Will any of this help Netanyahu in the election? There is no way to tell. By the way, it is worth noting that Putin was rather chilly when he parted from Netanyahu, saying, “It is extremely important to us who is elected to the next Knesset, and we hope they will maintain the friendship between our nations and further strengthen our relationship.” To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, “Countries have no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”

Russia has successfully moved into the role of mediator in the Middle East, a post the US have de facto left. They have a strategic alliance with Iran, but not with Israel - and not with Turkey. But they are willing to sell air defense to everyone.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 17 2019 7:57 utc | 261

One observation , the increased number of nonsensical hasbara posts in this thread indicates there's active western astroturfing pushing the narrative that Iran did it and will be held accountable by US.

it is a known fact that even the Saudi are not that foolish to blame iran knowing it wont be just a simple damage to their infrastructure if US went for Iran. All the gulf sheiks who hosts american military bases knew they are legitimate target in time of war , and they knew US will only care about their own in the real war scenario while the gulf infrastructure burned.

those neocons dont care if saudi / gulf state lost everything , they only serve as buffer for israel.

Those who so happy when bolton got fired are missing the point , the neocons are entrenched in US admin and no amount of firing will stop them.

Posted by: milomilo | Sep 17 2019 8:54 utc | 262

I have changed my mind about this attack, now I suspect at least a big part of what people said about what really happens is fake; for these reasons:

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 (probably 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.

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".

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

ð“lol. You know the Sauds would take a pasting, eh?”

"Your account appears to have exhibited automated behavior ... "

µ“The math isn't hard. Ciao.”

Posted by: Laurence | Sep 17 2019 9:26 utc | 264

Posted by: Nick | Sep 16 2019 11:09 utc | 12
“It was the impoverished, famine-stricken Yemenis that were able to pull off this high-tech strike with surgical precision. Apparently, even a cave man could do it. YeAH”

--It has been shown that cave-people with access to proper resources are capable of a moon landing…

Posted by: DomesticExtremist | Sep 16 2019 22:12 utc | 168
“Of course, the US will be highly familiar with Aramco facilities, having built and owned them for a while. I would not put it past their deep state to have perpetrated these attacks as a casus belli...”

--There have been “legitimate” casus belli already; Ockham’s razor says no false flag necessary.

Posted by: Robert Lindsay | Sep 16 2019 23:12 utc | 185
“I feel like I don't even live in reality. Like in Alice in Wonderland. Nothing's real, nothing's true, everything's fake, everyone's lying, you can hardly believe anything anyone says about anything.
REALLY NOTHING ABOUT THIS ATTACK MAKES SENSE.”

--Which—in this topsy-turvy topography—means the probability of marketed deception is likely negligible. (Of course, too interested parties will claim responsibility and the others will just benefit quietly while the ignorant dogs bark…)

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 16 2019 23:42 utc | 193
“It is a logical step in escalation and tech and within the realms of possibility - going off past houthi strikes.”

--Which is why it would be a perfect opportunity for Iran proper to do it itself…which fits exactly THEIR pattern of escalation.

It’s not that hard for Iran to make it appear the attacks come from the opposite side—in fact, it’s literally a corollary to the oldest trick in the book, isn’t it?

[And if you’re going for the cui bono? thing, it’s already been pointed out by Julian @202 (& possibly others—it was also my first thought)—Russia; and it wasn’t Russia, although, the immediate marketing of Russian defense materiel to Saudi Arabia could be construed as suspicious, but I think it’s more that Putin has never missed an opportunity to market Russia’s bounty (‘member the genius “our prostitutes” advertisement?)].

MOST importantly, there is a logical identity: Houthi=Iran.

Posted by: Anacharsis | Sep 17 2019 9:46 utc | 265

The Saudis cannot protect their assets unless they purchase Russian equipment. The sort used to defend Khmeimim air base in Syria. I don't see the Aramco flotation being successful if it can be destroyed by drones and missiles. This was a demonstration, not an all out offensive. Drones are so cheap compared to missiles, anti-missiles and planes. US personnel in the region are sitting targets. The US is going to get burned diplomatically and maybe militarily if they are stubborn.

Posted by: Kaiama | Sep 17 2019 9:47 utc | 266

A couple of comments on Houthi targeting capability. First they needed accurate gps location of the fracking towers then they installed a gps gadget about the size of a half matchbox, programmed that gps target destination into an arduino controller and instructed it to 'return to home' see: https://invidio.us/watch?v=HUZR4IaYpxQ for just one of many examples. I used a search term like 'gps guide for model airplane on youtube'. Results are astounding and informative. These model plane electronics kits are cheap, reliable and entirely adequate for a scaled up lethal bomber.

My guess is that these types of drone swarms are what is attacking the Russian airbase in Latakia province. I have watched many videos of SAA downed drones and they are mighty clever and unsophisticated but they all appear to have a gps vavigation and signalling system installed to either release the mortar bombs of do a kamikazi dive. One SAA video that I looked at showed substantial detail to even determine how to sever the zip ties that held the mortar bombs under the wings. The drone was incredibly simple and the controls elegantly basic and robust. I urge people to take time to follow some of this hobby development. There was even a rave about linking the gps to an Ipad for excellent remote control work. Now aint that kharma.

A comment on the onion storage cylinders that have identical 'holes'. I think they are red herrings and not target damage but construction artefacs for some purpose. The big targets are the distillation or fractionating colums as their loss put the entire operation out for a long time and are mighty expensive. A few got hit.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 9:48 utc | 267

According to the original Zero Hedge piece, the sat pics come out just before market opening. By the timing, apart from any other possibles, the pics were designed to spike the oil market. Somebody makes a few dollars when the market spikes, then a few more dollars when they drop. Saudi production in the coming week or so will tell us if the damage to the pressure tanks was real or faked.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 10:04 utc | 268

"It has been shown that cave-people with access to proper resources are capable of a moon landing…"
Well said. You mean the Americans?

Posted by: Mina | Sep 17 2019 10:17 utc | 269

Mina @ 269: Precisely.

Posted by: Anacharsis | Sep 17 2019 10:29 utc | 270

Formerly T-Bear | Sep 16 2019 19:06 utc | 100

"He will present his messy nickers at first opportunity"

Probably some scholarly paper written by an Iranian some years ago outline the tactics to be utilised along with a suggestion of which weapons would get the best results.

Similar to many papers presented by many "think tanks" elsewhere around the world.

As we are aware, ameristanis are a very IP aware, must protect the "rules based society" and place great store in truth :)

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 16 2019 18:59 utc | 98

"The reason for the finger-pointing is simple: Washington’s spectacular failure to protect its Saudi ally."

Anywhere but at themselves, a common trait in that part of the world.

Posted by: OhOh | Sep 17 2019 10:33 utc | 271

Saudi Arabia is a sitting duck. Not only is it a vulnerable target, but an economy almost completely driven by fossil fuel export is an economy sitting on quicksand. They are dependent vassals of the Anglo Zionist Empire.

Zionist U.S. and Israel have pushed Yemen and Iran to the brink of ruin. Necessity/survival is a powerful incentive, as stated; it's the mother of invention.

Iranian proxies have trained under survival mode, the best teacher, and are proving to be formidable fighters.

Iran already proved in the lengthy Iran/Iraq war that it can fight to the death.

Between ignoring climate change, messing with China's economy and taking on the Shia on their home turf, the ZioEmpire has an obsessive death wish.

Posted by: Circe | Sep 17 2019 10:58 utc | 273

"These blast points... too accurate for sandpeople." -- Said by exceptional and ludicrously unjustifiably arrogant westerners who cannot do basic arithmetic without a calculator and cannot even operate a can opener (yootoob) without video instructions.

Western civilization is already dead, but its members are too delusional and medicated to realize it yet.

No, delusional westerners, you are not smarter or better or "more woke" than the Houthis. You just have richer parents. Really, that is your only advantage, which is why you come to these fora to defend the evil empire.

Posted by: William Gruff | Sep 17 2019 11:12 utc | 274

Ian | Sep 17 2019 5:20 utc | 248

I didn't know there is another Ian here.   LOL   I believe some photos released to the public do not reflect the actual damage as Riyadh have threaten to execute anyone on revealing the truth.   In the case of foreigners, a lawsuit or some kind of consequence.   There's also the potential of embarrassment to the US (i.e. air defense systems).   So not publishing the actual damage could minimize the embarrassment.   What cannot be doctored or hidden from the public would be the fire at these plants, and it looks significant.   It's going to be some time before the repairs are completed.

Posted by: Ian2 | Sep 17 2019 11:38 utc | 275

If Russia continues to act as an opportunist, it will lose necessary allies for that certain day when the ZioEmpire decides it's time for a complete takeover.

Russia was never a natural ally of Iran. It's neither the natural ally of North Korea. It only uses certain parties like pawns to tout influence and annoy its greatest competitor.

Neither is China a natural ally of Russia and the ZioEmpire knows this fact which it uses to its full advantage, hence Trump was the Chosen stooge of the rulers.

Russia will never achieve balance of power betraying those it pretended to consider allies. That's why BRICS went nowhere. Putin dropped the ball or lost his (plural). Russia is reducing itself to a cog in the machinery of Zio-imperial domination with Bibi Yahoo whispering in Putin's ear every second day (lemme use Syria to target Iran and don't sell them anything of value etc.) and he in turn cackling at a summit with MBS over the latter's murderous exploits betraying in that sick image his own corrupt infamy and treachery.

So go ahead, Russia, sell your wares to the lowest common denominator in the ZioEmpire like a cheap ho would do on a street corner, but in the long run, you too will be devoured. There are already too many Zionist oligarchs running Russian industry and Putin will quietly give up the farm and retire to his palace by the sea.

Balance of power? Naaah!....pipe dream.

Posted by: Circe | Sep 17 2019 12:16 utc | 276

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 9:48 utc | 267

Russia claims the attacks on Khmeimim Air Base were by the Pentagon.

Lots of what is happening in the Middle East is the testing of weapons systems. Whatever protected Saudi oil production - and they certainly do have protection - has become unsellable. Russian systems seem to be state of the art though they are untested by Iran, Hezbollah, Houthis ....

I think there is a link to the Israeli attacks in Iraq where it can be assumed that the US agreed to the strikes. Houthis struck under the very Bahrain noses of the US.

If Saudi can be forced to buy Russian hardware (never mind Iranian), Iraq can.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 17 2019 12:44 utc | 277

C @ 276
"for that certain day when the ZioEmpire decides it's time for a complete takeover."

That day is long past. This is the 21st Century.

As far as tech smarts I daresay that most 13 or 14 year olds are far smarter at computers and 21st century tech gadgets like GPS and drone handling than the old farts like Pompeo, Trump, and Bolton who are trying to still live in a past age. And these things move faster by the day now.
Certainly given the opportunity these Yemenis are more than capable of using new hi tech to fight a war on very limited resources.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 12:48 utc | 278

I find it very hard to ascertain what, if any, damage has been sustained from these very low resolution US Government supplied photos. That doesn't mean that this is fake, or that the damage claimed has not been sustained, only that the photos supplied to the world do not PROVE anything, and that commenting upon the visual information supplied is speculation.

Oil stabilization is a relatively simple process, compared to say, an FCC, alkylation or platformate unit. A process flow diagram and related discussioncan be found here. An oil refinery of 1/10th the throughput would be about 10 times the size of this facility.

Posted by: Refinery Worker | Sep 17 2019 12:51 utc | 279

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 17 2019 2:07 utc | 231

@166 Laguerre - "It wasn't too bright of the Houthis to admit to having had help."

this point I think is worth looking at more.
...
Why would the Houthi reveal this fact, and employ those words as the weapon they undoubtedly are, unless that weapon is ready to be used again and again, and holds a tactical advantage over the enemy?
...
They may unwittingly fuel the internal escalation, and the Houthi strike and statement may even be the clarion call to mark this milestone.
...
My assumption from the statement was that, not only is there is a great force of resistance within Saudi Arabia, but also that is it very close to the point where it will come into the open.

I agree that it is an interesting question. I have written a good many times on MoA about internal dissent in Saudi Arabia, and its importance, but never before this event has it got traction.

The Saudis of course manage very successfully to keep internal dissent secret, no doubt with the willing accord of the Western powers. The reason that I called the Houthi revelation 'unwise' was the extremely brutal reprisals that the Saudis have inflicted on the Shi'a in Saudi. One wouldn't wish more on the Shi'a. There was that Shi'a town, al-Awamiyah (wiki) that the Saudis surrounded with a wall, laid siege to, and imprisoned, and no doubt starved into submission in 2017.

Quite the level of visceral hatred is easy to explain, I've said it before, and indeed it is the heart of the problem. Oil-fields in Saudi only occur in territories inhabited by the Shi'a. There is a mortal fear among the über-Sunni princes of revolt and losing their source of income. Under no circumstances can Shi'a even be allowed to imagine the idea of independence. And giving other Shi'a powers a kicking, to keep them down is seen as part of the solution.

And that goes back to the failure of the Saudis to unite a nation out of the disparate regions Ibn Saud conquered. The Sunni Hijaz are not particularly happy, but they don't do too badly, as long as they're paid. You remember when MbS's US financial advisers recommended cutting the public sector over-employment of unnecessary people who do nothing. It lasted two weeks, before the reform was withdrawn. Because, of course, paying the tribes through public employments is the way loyalty is retained. Long history as a way of doing things, occurs in the film of Lawrence of Arabia.

I'll see if I can look out the history of the Ismaili revolt against the Saudis in Najran in 2001, as recounted by the War-Nerd. It's quite amusing.

Posted by: Laguerre | Sep 17 2019 12:57 utc | 280

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Sep 17 2019 9:48 utc | 267
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Sep 17 2019 10:04 utc | 268

I agree the onion spheres are most likely red herrings, probably a coincidental structural feature such as overpressure valves, and do not reflect hits. Either in absolutely normal condition (in which case they should be visible in other photos), or possibly blown by excessive pressure upstream caused by fires in the towers. Probably opportunistic profit making by dealers, but the market profit making could also have been deliberately set-up by neocons to enhance their own message and distort the real message. As the troll output on this page very clearly demonstrate (thank you so much trolls), the neocons would much rather point the finger at Iran than the Houthis because the negative implications for their own image are less hugely negative.

Let's see what the next Houthi attack brings on 21st or 22nd September.

Posted by: BM | Sep 17 2019 12:59 utc | 281

Posted by: BM | Sep 17 2019 12:59 utc | 281
"...neocons would much rather point the finger at Iran than the Houthis..."

--You perpetuate a false disjunction.

[Iterated from @ 265: MOST importantly, there is a logical identity: Houthi=Iran.]

Posted by: Anacharsis | Sep 17 2019 13:25 utc | 282

Situations like this are tough to call, that's why I leave it to the brighter minds here & elsewhere to sort it out (where's PaveWay IV when you need him? - no offense b). Another source I check on from time to time is Jim Stone. Not sure what his creds are (ex-NSA?) but he often has interesting takes on things, in spite of carrying the torch for Trump


I AM CALLING IT: THERE WERE NO DRONES AND NO MISSILES USED AGAINST SAUDI REFINERY

"BOTTOM LINE: If it is all out so quickly and the damage is that uniform and the damage is that minimal, first of all Iranian cruise missiles did not do this because the damage is not enough (all of them carry 130 KG (286 pound) warheads and up) which would obliterate a large section of those tanks and not just leave a little hole (Oh, I know what did this, the Iranian navy put limpet mines on those tanks, YEP, that would end up looking like the photo) and magically and mysteriously got all of them right where they would not ignite any vapors and blow the whole thing. Forget about how they sailed into that refinery to do it, IRAN DID IT, IRAN DID IT, IRAN DID IT!!!!

The Yemenis did not do this either, they were simply not capable of that kind of precision. Even the U.S. would likely not have an attack pattern be so uniform and perfect, this looks like a hand placement job and someone was brainless about making it look credible."

Posted by: xLemming | Sep 17 2019 13:34 utc | 283

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

That...

...or, you could simply realize Saudi Arabia is a Third World banana republic (monarchy), with a very inefficient State machine when it comes to deliver basic public services (e.g. firemen, policemen, healthcare).

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 13:37 utc | 284

Posted by: Anacharsis | Sep 17 2019 13:25 utc | 282

Not really. Or you would say MEK (non state actor) are the United States, Hongkong demonstrators Britain etc.

The damage to military power projection of the US is huge.

This from July
U.S. military has begun reestablishing air base inside Saudi Arabia

Hundreds of U.S. troops, fighter jets, and Patriot missile defense systems are moving to Prince Sultan Air Base, officials said.

ASPEN, Colo. — In June the U.S. military began moving equipment and hundreds of troops back to a military base in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. deserted more than 15 years ago, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the deployment.

Over the coming weeks the deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, intended to counter the threat from Iran, will grow to include fighter jets and Patriot long-range missile defense systems, the officials said. The Patriots have already arrived at the base and should be operational in mid-July, while the aircraft are expected to arrive in August.

Several hundred U.S. service members are already on site preparing the facility south of Riyadh, which is controlled by the Royal Saudi Air Force, a number that will grown to more than 500 after the arrival of an air squadron.

Prince Sultan Air Base is really close to the attacked oil production sites.

It would have made sense for Saudi Arabia to sue for peace a long time ago, latest when UAE did. What stopped them?

Posted by: somebody | Sep 17 2019 13:41 utc | 285

Trump says US doesn’t need Middle East oil; data, experts prove otherwise

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its latest available report that last year, the US imported about 9.93 million barrels per day of petroleum from some 86 countries, of which 78 percent was crude oil.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia was the second largest oil provider for the US, selling it around 900,000 bpd. Iraq was ranked fifth on the list with a little more than half a million bpd. Canada topped the list by selling an average of 4.28 million bpd to the US.

America produces around 12 million barrels of oil a day but consumes a staggering 20 million bpd, meaning that it needs to import a substantial amount to meet its needs.

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 13:51 utc | 286

"Asked by @jonkarl if he thinks Saudis are responsible for defending themselves, Pres. Trump says, "The Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something...and that includes payment and they understand that fully." https://abcn.ws/2AmVSTh "

So now Trump is running a mercenary army with American cannon fodder for sale but not cheap.

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 14:00 utc | 287

A few notes for the speculators here:

Yes, there are multiple redundancies in the process world architecture - usually twos and threes. Processes are most efficient and economical when operated continuously, often for years at a time. Redundancies allow for equipment to be maintained without interrupting the process. Also redundant power sources: Electric and turbine pumps, for instance.

There are no pressure relief valves on the sides of the oblate spheres. Pressure is controlled by a valve downstream of the line coming off the top of a vessel.That valve is meant to fail safe (open, rather than shut) in the event of a power loss. Vessel levels are controlled by the flow into the side (somewhere depending upon type) of a vessel. Water, which is heavier that crude, is removed from a collection boot at the bottom of the vessel.

Catalytic Crackers are not the tallest vessels in a refinery, although they may be the largest volume-wise. Crude and light-end towers are the tallest. An oil stabilization unit, such as the one being discussed here is not a refinery, but a pre-treatment facility for shipping.

Posted by: Refinery Worker | Sep 17 2019 14:01 utc | 288

Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 13:51 utc | 286

It depends on whom you ask. They are pretty close to energy independence but that is not the issue. The issue is the rising price. US oil producers profit but not other industries and the consumer. Rising prices mean economic slowdown.

Trump is incapable of thinking in multiple consequences including predictable and unpredictable actions by opponents - he is a golf player, not a chess player.

The view from India

The net consequence of New Delhi following Washington’s lead is that it has thrown the game in this strategic neighbourhood to China.

The US moving soldiers to Saudi Arabia guarantees that Saudi is involved in any US war on Iran. All US bases in the Gulf do just that. They are a lot of targets for Iranians to choose from if the US do not manage to knock them out within a day or so. Go to youtube and get a view of the Zagros mountains.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 17 2019 14:07 utc | 289

@ Posted by: vk | Sep 17 2019 13:37 utc | 284

I am not talking about KSA "deliver basic public services" to the saudi people, I am talking about to have some emergency procedures and safety standards that are universal in the petrochemical industries if you want to survive some years (accidents do happens normally), and this installation is the biggest in the world in its class and have survived many decades.

Posted by: DFC | Sep 17 2019 14:11 utc | 290

add to 289

The geopolitics of Iran

Iran is a fortress. Surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the ocean, with a wasteland at its center, Iran is extremely difficult to conquer. This was achieved once by the Mongols, who entered the country from the northeast. The Ottomans penetrated the Zagros Mountains and went northeast as far as the Caspian but made no attempt to move into the Persian heartland.

Iran is a mountainous country looking for inhabitable plains. There are none to the north, only more mountains and desert, or to the east, where Afghanistan’s infrastructure is no more inviting. To the south there is only ocean. What plains there are in the region lie to the west, in modern-day Iraq and historical Mesopotamia and Babylon. If Iran could dominate these plains, and combine them with its own population, they would be the foundation of Iranian power.

It looks like Neocons - Shiite strategy - helped to achieve Iran exactly that.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 17 2019 14:15 utc | 291

A few minutes in Google Maps/Earth shows that the "holes" in the round tanks are NOT normal features, and NOT pressure valves. Locate "Buqaiq, KSA", you'll find the Abqaiq plant east of town; zoom in,look around, rotate, you'll see that the part of the tanks where the holes appear on the new photos were smooth and featureless when the Google pix were shot (on average, a couple years old?).

So, those "holes" are either real puncture wounds or fake ones (photoshop? or paint on the tanks?). Occam says they're real Holes and not happy ones. B says those tanks stored H2S, which is a damn nasty gas (used a few times in WWI as gas weapon). Aramco CEO claims that "there were no injuries" in the attack. Somebody is lying about Something, but I can't tell who or what.

Bonus observation: sky-pic showing smoke plume from/near "Haradh Gas Plant" is mislabeled - that's really the Hawiya Gas Plant, 100 km NNE of Haradh. This is probably just "innocent" bad journalism, where one paper makes a mistake and others blindly repeat it.

Also, I've only seen two pix showing relative closeup of smoke-plumes (Abqaiq, and "Haradh"/Hawiyah). In both cases, the plumes originate from areas outside the actual Plant in rectangular blank space connected to Plant by pipelines. Those places are either well-heads, underground storage, or (emergency?) overflow. In the Google Earth shot of Hawiyah, you can even see some flaring from the place where the big plume appears in the news photo. So, probably well-head? IN any case, the actual Plants are not burning. The Plumes might all be created/faked by excess flaring, but I don't see a clear motivation for that.

Posted by: elkern | Sep 17 2019 14:21 utc | 292

Furthermore, H2S, which is very, very dangerous and deadly, is converted into elemental Sulfur for safety. I do not see any sulfur pits at the facility. I wonder why or where the conversion takes place.

Posted by: Refinery Worker | Sep 17 2019 14:33 utc | 293

"TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, has filed a request to supply gasoline from Iran after a sudden cut of domestic supplies due to the recent Yemeni drone attacks on its major oil facilities, a senior member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said Tuesday."

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980626000653

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 14:38 utc | 294

@ Posted by: DFC | Sep 17 2019 14:11 utc | 290

The only significant variable that changed in these "many decades" was the Yemen War.

What probably happened was that Saudi military doctrine didn't consider Yemen as an enemy, but MbS did a coup, took power and suddenly decided to starve the whole country to death. Military doctrines take decades to change, so the Saudi Armed Forces may have been caught unprepared when MbS ordered it to attack Yemen.

The refineries in Abqaiq et al were not well defended because the old military doctrine stated it didn't need to be. Iran has a policy of blocking the Hormuz Strait, not of bombing refineries, so my guess would be that the Saudis focused on the Navy and on alliances with seasied mini-coutries such as UAE, Bahrein and Qatar. You can't lift up a complete, state-of-the-art air defense on an infrastructure that crosses the whole country in just four years. And that's assuming the USA's Patriot system works (aparently, it doesn't).

Saudi Arabia is not Japan. Commenters here seem to have a very distorted view of the country as some kind of nazifascist utopia, where the State is brutal and undemocratic, but very efficient and top quality on the material side. That's completely false: Saudi Arabia is a third world country with barely functional civil infrastructure. There are oasis of First World where the elites live (and in the touristic places), but that's a common feature in every Third World country.

It's State is inneficient and ill-prepared. It really is a paper tiger that only survives because the USA wants it to.

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

"Yemeni Source Warns of Expanding Attacks to UAE Oil Facilities"
"The military official who called for anonymity told the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel on Tuesday that targeting the Saudi oil wells in the depth of the kingdom's territories had also a strong message to the UAE.

"Their oil companies and glass-made cities are among our future targets," he said, warning the UAE government."

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980626000760

Posted by: arby | Sep 17 2019 14:48 utc | 296

After reading latest comments ...

IMO the wag-the-dog+looting scenario that I described @226 is still the most likely. Also, don't miss the follow-ups @228 and @236.

Summary: the Hoothi attack was allowed to happen and the resulting damage was augmented so that (what appears to be) a disastrous impact on oil production would increase world prices.

We are seeing a lot of distractions attempting to point away from such a scenario: increased tensions with Iran (that ultimately fissile out), charges of rascism if you question Houthi capabilities, etc.

<> <> <> <> <>

Of course, it they actually go to war against Iran, then this scenario would be proven wrong. But until then, IMO this scenario is baseline.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 17 2019 15:12 utc | 297

The assumption that everything always explodes when hit by bullets or missiles is a side effect of watching too much Hollywood crap, and also happens to be a good example of how Hollywood molds people's perception of reality.

It is entirely probable for a small explosive charge to create a hole in a pressurized tank full of a flammable gas without that gas turning into a giant fireball. Others have already pointed it out but it needs restating: flammable gasses need to be mixed with air (or oxygen, in any case) in very specific proportions in order to even burn, much less explode.

Basically, the tanks would not explode from getting hit by a missile/drone (whatever your preferred terminology is) unless the explosive charge carried by that missile was sufficient all on its own to demolish the entire tank. This was likely not the case. The Houthi missiles likely just exploded on the surface of the tanks and those explosives just punched holes in the tanks, allowing them to vent. If the escaping gasses were ignited, then you would get a jet of flame, but that would be some distance from the tanks themselves and wouldn't even be in contact with the tanks. More likely is that the initial out-rush of decompressing gasses would immediately extinguish any flames as they displace oxygen and chill nearby ignition sources (gasses cool significantly when they decompress). We would only get a nice BLEVE (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion) if there were already fires outside the tanks to heat them up, which as others have noted appears unlikely.

Thus there is no mystery with the big hydrogen sulfide tanks.

Posted by: William Gruff | Sep 17 2019 15:12 utc | 298

The difference between a 'suicide drone' and a cruise missile is in reality a highly technical one. But, in terms of 'media reports' it is entirely propaganda. Its only a question of which sounds worse to the side the writer is trying to slander.

Neither is a ballistic projectile. Both can attack a target from any direction and that direction is independent of its launch point. Cruise missile can be programmed to attack from an unexpected direction, and of course drones can be flown as such to hit a target from any direction. In this case, cruise missiles can be programmed to fly around the target and approach the target from the west, and drones could be piloted on the same route, and this is true whether they were launched from the north, south or east.

The only thing Pompeo is proving is that there was foreign interference in the last American election and that it was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was doing the interfering.

Posted by: bulldog | Sep 17 2019 15:12 utc | 299

Were those horns I saw emerging from Dennis Ross's head today on CNN? Maybe it was only my fertile imagination, but the vomit he just spewed on the gatekeeper network regarding what to do about Iran makes me think he urgently requires an exorcism. Trump has been putting kids in cages, but the ones who should be in cages like zoo animals are the likes of Ross and Lindsey Graham and include Trump and the majority of the U.S. Congress. Ziobeasts!

Posted by: Circe | Sep 17 2019 15:29 utc | 300

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