Ras Tanura is the world’s largest oil terminal, capable of exporting roughly 6.5 million barrels a day — nearly 7% of oil demand — and as such one of the world’s most protected installations. The port includes a large storage tank farm where crude is kept before it’s pumped into super-tankers.
A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen’s civil war since 2015.
On Sunday, it carried out retaliatory air strikes on Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. It said it intercepted missiles and drones launched at the kingdom from neighboring Yemen, just as the Houthi rebels claimed a series of attacks — including one on Ras Tanura.
The group launched eight ballistic missiles and 14 bomb-laden drones at Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Saree, said in a statement to Houthi-run Al Masirah television.
The Houthis have stepped up assaults on Saudi Arabia and last week claimed they hit a Saudi Aramco fuel depot in Jeddah with a cruise missile. It wasn’t clear how much damage had been caused. While such assaults rarely result in extensive damage, their frequency has created unease in the Gulf.
The Houthis have been fighting Yemen’s United Nations-recognized government since 2014. The Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year to back the government. The UN has called the conflict — in which tens of thousands have died — the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Saudi-led coalition said a recent U.S. decision to revoke the designation of the rebels as terrorists had fueled the rise in attacks. The Biden administration has moved to ditch the designation, which was adopted toward the end of President Donald Trump’s time in office and was seen as a way of increasing pressure on Iran.