Saudi Aramco has emerged from attacks ‘stronger than ever’ — CEO

The Tehran-backed Houthis have claimed the weekend’s strikes on two plants owned by state giant Aramco in eastern Saudi Arabia. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Saudi Aramco has emerged from attacks ‘stronger than ever’ — CEO

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has emerged from attacks on its oil facilities “stronger than ever,” Chief Executive Amin Nasser told employees in a message, adding that full oil production would resume by the end of this month.
The Sept. 14 attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais plants, some of the kingdom’s biggest, caused raging fires and significant damage that halved the crude output of the world’s top oil exporter, by shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day of production.
“The fires that were intended to destroy Saudi Aramco had an unintended consequence: they galvanized 70,000 of us around a mission to rebound quickly and confidently, and Saudi Aramco has come out of this incident stronger than ever,” Nasser said in the internal message, on the occasion of the Saudi national day, to be celebrated on Sept. 23.
“Every second counts in moments like these, and had we not acted quickly to contain the fires and undertake rapid restoration efforts, the impact on the oil market and the global economy would have been far more devastating.”
Six days after the assault, which hit at the heart of the Saudi energy industry and intensified a decades-long struggle with arch-rival Iran, the state oil giant Aramco invited reporters on Friday to observe the damage and the repair efforts.
Thousands of employees and contractors have been pulled from other projects to work around the clock to bring production back. Aramco is shipping equipment from the United States and Europe to rebuild the damaged facilities, Aramco officials told reporters.
Aramco already brought back part of the lost production and will return to pre-attacks level end of September, Nasser said.
“Not a single shipment to our international customers has been missed or canceled as a result of the attacks, and we will continue to fulfil our mission of providing the energy the world needs,” he said in the message, seen by Reuters.
Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia had used its reserves to maintain oil supply flows to customers abroad and inside the kingdom.
Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attacks but a US official said they originated from southwestern Iran. Tehran, which support the Houthis, has denied any involvement in the attacks.
Saudi Arabia says 18 drones and three missiles were fired at Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing facility, while the Khurais facility was hit by four missiles.
No casualties were reported at either site even though thousands of workers and contractors work and live in the area.


EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

Updated 01 July 2020

EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

  • The step has been taken due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards
  • PIA expects the ‘earliest possible’ lifting of suspension after action by the government and the airline

ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took the action due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows Pakistan’s grounding of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots — including 141 of PIA’s 434 — whose licenses the aviation minister termed “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” PIA said in a statement. It added it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in an emailed statement, the EASA referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
PIA said it is in contact with the EASA to take corrective measures and appeal against the decision, adding that it expected the “earliest possible” lifting of the suspension after action by the government and the airline.
The EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.
The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), say there are discrepancies in the government’s list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious and are demanding a judicial investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue have also queried the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots mentioned had either retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employed seven of nine pilots on the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
An official at Pakistan’s aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details of the discrepancies. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”