Aramco could consider declaring itself unable to fulfill contracts on some international shipments – known as force majeure – if the resumption of full capacity at Abqaiq takes weeks.
That would rattle oil markets and cast a shadow on Aramco’s preparations for what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering. It’s also set to escalate a showdown pitting Saudi Arabia and the US against Iran, which backs proxy groups from Yemen to Syria and Lebanon.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit for the attack, but USSecretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran directly.
The Trump administration said it was ready to deploy the nation’s emergency oil reserves and help stabilise markets if needed.
“The vulnerability of Saudi infrastructure to attacks, historically seen as a stable source of crude to the market, is a new paradigm the market will need to deal with,” said Virendra Chauhan, a Singapore-based analyst at industry consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. “At present, it is not known how long crude will be offline for.”
Brent jumped as much as 19.5pc, it’s biggest gain in percentage terms since 1991. It was up 12.7pc at $67.85 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe at 6:33 a.m. in Singapore. West Texas Intermediate crude futures jumped as much as 15.5pc in New York to $63.34, the most since 2008.