Saudi energy minister says oil output to be fully restored by end of the month

Saudi Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Saudi Arabia would keep its role as the secure supplier of global oil markets. (AN photo Adnan Mehdli)
Updated 20 September 2019

Saudi energy minister says oil output to be fully restored by end of the month

  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Saudi Arabia will continue as secure supplier of global oil markets
  • Oil prices dropped about six percent Tuesday after the energy minister's comments

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia said Tuesday its oil output will return to normal by the end of September, seeking to soothe rattled energy markets after attacks on two instillations that slashed its production by half.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told a press conference in Jeddah that half of the production knocked out by the attacks was already back up and running. He said the Kingdom had dipped into its stored reserves to ensure supply continued as normal.

"Over the past two days we have contained the damage and restored more than half of the production that was down as a result of the terrorist attack," said the minister.

"I have good news for you... the oil output to international markets is back to what it was before the attack," he said.

The Prince said Saudi Arabia would keep its role as the secure supplier of global oil markets. He added that the Kingdom, the world’s leading oil exporter, needs to take strict measures to prevent further attacks.

“Where would you find a company in this whole world that went through such a devastating attack and came out like a phoenix?” he said

Oil prices dropped about six percent Tuesday after the energy minister’s comments, steadying markets that had jumped amid concerns of supply and instability in the region.

The attacks on Saturday on the Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oil field halved the Kingdom’s production and shut off about five percent of global oil output.

The Kingdom will achieve 11 million barrels per day (bpd) capacity by the end of September and 12 million bpd by the end of November, Prince Abdulaziz.

Oil production in October would be 9.89 million bpd and the world’s top oil exporter would keep full oil supplies to customers this month, he said.

“We don’t know who is behind the attack,” Prince Abdulaziz said, adding that the kingdom wants “proof based on professionalism and internationally recognised standards.”

The US has blamed Iran for the attack and sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia amid heightened tensions.

Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry is to present evidence on Wednesday of Iranian involvement, as well as weapons used, in the attacks. 

Aramco chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the attacks would not effect the upcoming IPO of his company.

Chief Executive Amin Nasser said the company was still in the process of estimating repair work but that it was “not that significant.”

“We had to deal with an unprecedented attack,” he said. “We had to tackle 10 fires raging simultaneously — three in Khurais and seven in Abqaiq. It took us less than seven hours to put these fires out, which is amazing considering that we were dealing with hydrocarbons, gas and oil.”

He added that production at Khurais resumed only 24 hours after the attack and has gradually increased since then. Production at Abqaiq is at 2 million bpd, with output expected to be restored to prior levels by the end of September.

“These synchronized attacks were timed to create maximum damage to our facilities and operations,” said Nasser. “The rapid response and resilience demonstrated in the face of such adversity shows the company’s preparedness to deal with threats aimed at sabotaging Aramco’s supply of energy to the world.”

Praising the efforts of emergency-response teams, including firefighters and operations and security personnel, in coordination with government agencies, he added: “I am enormously proud of the courage, dedication and proficiency of our people, who ensured there were no injuries. We have a hard-earned reputation for nearly 100 percent reliability in terms of meeting our international customers’ requirements and we have defended that.”

Aramco ensured deliveries would continue by drawing on inventories and offering additional crude production from other fields.

“Not a single shipment to an international customer has been or will be missed or canceled as a result of these attacks,” said Nasser. “We have proven that we are operationally resilient and have confirmed our reputation as the world’s leading supplier.”

• With AFP, AP and Reuters


Saudi Arabia delivers ‘early warning’ on preterm births

Updated 21 November 2019

Saudi Arabia delivers ‘early warning’ on preterm births

  • Cost of care, long-term health issues a challenge for hospitals, says expert

JEDDAH: Up to 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in Saudi Arabia with hospitals in the Kingdom spending up to SR60,000 ($16,000) on individual treatment and specialized care, a leading pediatrician told Arab News.

Dr. Sawsan Hussein Daffa, consultant neonatologist and head of pediatrics department at the Aya Specialist Hospital, said that the Saudi Ministry of Health is working to ensure premature infants get the best medical help possible, in addition to assisting families, despite the high cost.

“Premature births can cost hospitals and insurance companies as much as SR100,000 ($26,667),” she said. “Services provided to care for premature babies can cost hospitals SR50,000-60,000 during the infant’s stay.”

Daffa was speaking after World Prematurity Day on Nov. 17.

Any child born before 36 weeks of the gestational age is called premature.

“The particularly small babies are placed in incubators for a period of time ranging from 30 to 60 days. This can cost government hospitals/insurance companies around SR60,000. Some others are placed there for longer periods and can even cost SR100,000,” she said.

However, the consultant said that up to 28 percent of premature babies die due to complications.

The Saudi Health Ministry’s website said that some preterm births are likely to have more health problems than babies born on time. “These may face long-term health problems affecting the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.”

“One of the most life-threatening problems is respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which can cause babies to need extra oxygen and help with breathing. RDS occurs when there is not enough surfactant in the lungs. This substance, made by the lungs, keeps the airways open and helps babies breathe,” she said.

Daffa said that a baby with RDS is usually kept on a respiratory machine and receives surfactant.

“Premature babies are put in incubators until they are 1.8 to 2kg. This normally needs a month or two. Sometimes, they are placed there for three months depending on the weight of the premature child when they were born. The less they weigh, the more time they need to spend in the incubator,” she said.

Daffa said that World Prematurity Day was first celebrated 11 years ago in Italy when the families of premature infants gathered. “It has been celebrated yearly since then,” she said.

“It is an occasion during which physicians work on promoting awareness among families, especially pregnant women, to prevent preterm births. It is also a chance to spread awareness as to how to help premature babies avoid diseases.”

The consultant said that a premature baby grows differently from a full-term baby in their early years.

“These babies may start walking later than their peers. Sometimes complications can affect their brains and thus, they join school late, too,” she said. But she said that by the age of 10 their development was similar to that of other children.

The neonatologist advised parents of premature children to attend events to help their children avoid complications.

“Pregnant mothers should follow up with their doctors to detect problems early and find solutions. They should also follow a diet rich in proteins, folic acid and minerals,” she added. 

Daffa said a special vaccine given to premature babies could protect them against the respiratory syncytial virus, which normally hits premature infants from October to March.

According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, more than 60 percent of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia, but preterm birth is a global problem. In lower-income countries, on average 12 percent of babies are born too early compared with 9 percent in higher-income countries, the report said.

Within countries, poorer families are at higher risk, it added.