News / Middle East

    Shots Fired at Saudi Pipeline Hint at Larger Concerns

    Map of Saudi ArabiaMap of Saudi Arabia
    x
    Map of Saudi Arabia
    Map of Saudi Arabia
    Reuters

    A small fire erupted on a gas pipeline in eastern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after assailants shot at a security patrol, security and oil industry sources said, in an incident that may heighten concern about the vulnerability of Saudi energy infrastructure.

    The pipeline has been repaired and there was no impact on oil or gas production, the sources said.

    But the incident marks the first confirmed attack on physical energy infrastructure in the world's top oil exporter since 2006, when Saudi security forces foiled an attack by al-Qaida militants on the giant Abqaiq processing plant.

    The Saudi security source said the fire started after a stray bullet hit the pipeline when shots were fired at security forces patrolling the oil-rich Eastern Province.

    The news had almost no immediate impact on the oil market. International benchmark Brent crude oil was down $1.11 at $101.68 a barrel at 1144 GMT, pressured by worries about slowing demand growth in China and Europe, a strong U.S. dollar and ample supplies.

    “It was a gas pipeline, it was repaired and there was no effect on anything,” the industry source said.

    A resident in the Eastern district of Qatif said the incident had taken place close to a checkpoint at the entrance to the village of Awamiya, but that it had caused no damage to homes or other property.

    “It wasn't very big or loud, but people in Awamiya and the neighboring village of Safwa heard it,” he said.

    Shi'ite unrest

    Awamiya in Qatif district has been the location of Saudi Arabia's most persistent unrest, with protests by members of the Sunni kingdom's Shi'ite minority in 2011 continuing until last year, coupled with occasional shooting and fire-bomb attacks on police.

    There have been no confirmed attempts by Shi'ite activists to target Saudi Arabia's energy facilities. State oil firm Saudi Aramco is a major employer of Shi'ites in both Qatif and the sect's other main population center in Eastern Province, al-Ahsa.

    However, there was speculation in late 2012 that a cyber attack on Aramco, which forced the oil company to replace thousands of computers, had been planned by local Shi'ite activists. Officials later said the attack had been planned abroad.

    An August 2008 U.S. assessment, revealed in a Riyadh embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, said Saudi facilities were “highly vulnerable” and that any disruption would likely have a “devastating impact on the U.S. national economy and the global economy as a whole”.

    Discrimination alleged

    Saudi Shi'ites complain that they face systematic discrimination from the country's Sunni-ruled government. They account for 10 to 20 percent of the population and live mostly in Eastern Province, where the biggest oil and gas fields are located.

    Shi'ites say their areas receive less investment and that they are restricted in matters of public worship and mosque building, are not appointed to important jobs in local government and are subjected to slurs by senior Sunni clerics.

    The government said there is no discrimination.

    Protests in 2011 calling for more rights for Shi'ites and democracy were quickly quashed by the authorities, but sporadic protests continued and more than 20 people were killed.

    The authorities have blamed some of the unrest on an unidentified foreign power, widely understood to be Iran, and last year detained some Shi'ites accused of joining an Iranian spy ring. Local Shi'ite activists deny being in touch with Tehran.   

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Leaderless, Rudderless, Britain Drifts

    Experts predicted chaos would follow, if Britain decided to vote for Brexit, and chaos has

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora