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Recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil highlight region’s risks – S&P

Recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil highlight region’s risks – S&P

Although high inventory levels could limit the impact of the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, S&P Global Ratings on Tuesday said the event highlighted the region’s high geopolitical risks and the risks to spare capacity.

The attack on national oil company Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais led to an immediate drop in Saudi crude oil production of 5.7-million barrels a day, amounting to more than half of Saudi’s average production this year.

The duration of the production outages and how much damage the facilities have sustained, is currently unclear, S&P pointed out.

The outage affects not only oil production, but also gas production, with the latter a vital feedstock to a significant part of Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical and manufacturing industry.

However, while Saudi Arabia is said to benefit from several key credit strengths, its government’s ability to quickly re-install and maintain its high oil production and installed capacity despite the increased geopolitical tensions in the region is an important factor in S&P’s rating analysis.

This direct hit on more than half of the country’s total production and any protracted delays in restoring supplies, will have significant ramifications for the oil markets, S&P lamented.

This combined strike event, which knocked out 5% of global oil supply and more than double the amount of global spare-production capacity, highlights the concentration risk and oil market vulnerabilities, S&P said.

How Saudi Arabia responds to the event is what concerns the market, with any escalation or prolonged military conflict expected to lead to oil prices increasing rapidly toward $100/bl.

“There’s no doubt the resulting price increase will be a boost for many oil producers, particularly for US shale producers who have been one of the worst-performing sectors in the S&P 500 and are under the microscope from investors to rein in production, live within cash flow and improve returns,” the agency said in a statement.

However, it is still too early to tell what the credit impact will be, and even then, it will largely depend on how long and how much oil production is off the market.

S&P’s next rating publication for Saudi Arabia will be published on September 27.

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