Saudi oil production surges back to 75 percent of pre-attack level

An Aramco tank is seen at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. Picture taken May 21, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2019

Saudi oil production surges back to 75 percent of pre-attack level

  • We can deal with effects of ‘cowardly sabotage,’ king says of drone and missile attacks
  • Two Aramco plants were hit in drone and missile attacks on Sept. 14 that caused fires and significant damage, halving the country’s oil output

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has restored more than 75 percent of the production lost after attacks on two oil processing plants and will return to full capacity next week.

The Khurais facility is now producing more than 1.3 million barrels per day and the Abqaiq plant about 3 million, industry sources said. 

Both Aramco plants were hit in drone and missile attacks on Sept. 14 that caused fires and significant damage, halving the country’s oil output. The Kingdom’s ability to quickly restore production demonstrated an important degree of resilience to potentially damaging shocks, the ratings agency Moody’s said.

King Salman said on Monday that Saudi Arabia was able to deal with the effects of what he described as “this cowardly sabotage, that targeted the Kingdom and the stability of global energy supplies.”

He spoke after talks in Jeddah with King Hamad of Bahrain, who denounced the “serious escalation targeting the security and stability of the region.”

Meanwhile, the diplomatic focus on the fallout from the missile strikes moved to New York, where world leaders are gathering for the UN General Assembly. Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed Iran for the attacks, and they were joined on Monday by Britain.

“The UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco attacks. We think it very likely indeed that Iran was responsible,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on his way to the US.

“We will be working with our American friends and our European friends to construct a response that tries to deescalate tensions in the Gulf region,” he said.

However, the UK risks opening a diplomatic rift with other European countries trying to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions. Their efforts have so far failed, with the US withdrawing from the deal and reimposing sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to blame Iran for the Aramco attacks. “One must be very careful in attributing responsibility,” he said on his way to New York.

Macron, Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks on Monday to coordinate their Iran strategy before meetings with US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Gulf states, the US, the Europeans and others needed to engage in “collective diplomacy” to defuse tensions, a senior GCC official said.

“The conversation should no longer be about the JCPOA, but Iran’s missile program and its regional misbehavior, which are as important if not more important — they have the potential to hold the region to ransom,” he said.

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan won’t be blacklisted, makes tremendous progress — Citibank

  • Blacklisting is not likely, Pakistan has made great strides, says Nadeem Lodhi
  • Greylisting of Pakistan is a geopolitical issue, according to Citibank

KARACHI: Citibank Pakistan has expressed its confidence that the country would not be further downgraded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the back of progress it has shown.
“Blacklisting (of Pakistan) is not probability now or any other time,” Nadeem Lodhi, CEO of Citibank Pakistan told journalists at Pakistan Media Roundtable held in Karachi on Monday. 
“Pakistan is making tremendous strides on the list provided by FATF and our regulator is very strong and they have made whatever they have to implement in the financial industry,” he added.
Citibank, which operates in 98 countries and acts as a correspondent bank in Pakistan offering services to corporate and public sector clients – making payments around $4 trillion per day to other banks – says its operations have not been impacted by the greylisting of the country.
“We as a correspondent bank operate on the same alert level (as before greylisting) and it is unchanged for us and business is not impacted or that the business of our client including financial institutions is not impacted,” said Moiz Hussain Ali, Citibank Pakistan country treasury and markets head, explaining that the greylisting of Pakistan is “more of a geopolitical issue.” 
“When Afghanistan is on the white list how can Pakistan be on the grey or black list?” Ali added.
In October, the Paris-based FATF expressed concerns with regard to “overall lack of progress” by Pakistan in addressing its terror financing risks, and gave Islamabad time until February 2020 to complete its full action plan or risk further downgrading.
“Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their FIs (financial institutions) to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the FATF warned.
Citibank officials say Pakistan may remain on the greylist till the end of the upcoming year.
“The list given to Pakistan is quite long and it is not that you can do it overnight,” Ali said.
He expressed satisfaction with the government’s current economic policies and called for their continuation.
According to the Citibank officials, if the current political regime, where the army and political leadership look united, continues for the next two years, things should improve.
They said a number of multinational companies are planning to invest at least $500 million each in various sectors of the economy, ranging from consumer goods to energy.