• Drone strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities creates diplomatic headaches

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

The drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that sent international oil prices up by 20% in their immediate aftermath have heightened geopolitical tensions across much of the world. The attacks affected roughly 50% of Saudi Arabian crude production capacity, with Saudi Arabia and the US (followed also by Germany, the UK and France) pointing the finger of blame at Iran, which denies responsibility. While the US pledged to deploy soldiers to Saudi Arabia and has been calling for increased economic sanctions on Iran, there is widespread doubt, as Reuters reports, that there is appetite for any military intervention against Iran. Such action would likely be unpopular in the US, and President Trump campaigned against foreign military incursions during his successful 2016 bid to become president. Likewise, no European country has any appetite for such a move, and both China and Russia have said they would not support any action without conclusive proof of Iran’s responsibility, leaving perhaps only Saudi Arabia willing. An opinion piece published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has suggested that drone attacks will increase in the future, being difficult to control against and relatively cheap, thus ‘attractive’ to states with fewer conventional military resources. For the time being, oil prices have fallen such that they are now around the level before the drone attacks.