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Saudi oil output to recover in two or three weeks after attack

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A satellite image shows an apparent drone strike on an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq. Saudi Arabia sought to calm markets on Tuesday after an attack on its oil facilities, with sources in the kingdom saying output was recovering much more quickly than initially forecast and could be fully back in two or three weeks.

[LONDON] Saudi Arabia sought to calm markets on Tuesday after an attack on its oil facilities, with sources in the kingdom saying output was recovering much more quickly than initially forecast and could be fully back in two or three weeks.

International oil companies, fellow members of the Opec oil cartel and global energy policy makers had heard no updates on the impact of the weekend attack from the Saudis for 48 hours, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

And on Monday, sources briefed on state oil giant Aramco's operations had said it could take months for output to recover.

The attack knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production, or 5 per cent of global output, sending prices soaring when trading resumed on Monday. So the new prediction of a quick return to normal output sent prices down sharply on Tuesday.

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The kingdom is close to restoring 70 per cent of the 5.7 million barrels per day lost due to the attack, a top Saudi official said, adding that Aramco's output would be fully back online in the next two to three weeks.

The Saudi energy minister will hold a news conference on Tuesday at 1715 GMT, giving what would be the first official update since Aramco announced on Sunday that attacks on its plants in Abqaiq and Khurais had knocked out 5.7 million barrels per day.

While the Houthi group, which is fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, US President Donald Trump blamed Iran. That accusation prompted Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday to rule out talks with Washington.

Mr Trump said on Monday that it looked like Iran was behind the strike at the heart of the Saudi oil industry, but stressed he did not want to go to war. Iran denied it was to blame.

Riyadh asked international experts to join its investigation, which indicates the attack did not come from Yemen, the foreign ministry said. US officials say they believe it came from the opposite direction, possibly from Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Yemenis had launched the strikes in retaliation for attacks by a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling the Houthis for four years. Riyadh says Teheran arms the group, which has fired missiles and drones on Saudi cities, a charge both deny.

REUTERS