Drone attack adds lead to Saudi oil supply: Darcy cartoon

PM Imran offers full support to Saudi Arabia after attack on oil facilities

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have spiked following a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that the United States said Iran was responsible for.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman visited Beijing in 2017, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to China earlier this year.

The oil market is facing a prolonged disruption to Saudi Arabia's oil production with few options for replacing such huge output losses.

Sugawara has previously said that Japan has oil reserves that are enough to cover more than 230 days of domestic consumption and the ministry will cooperate with the International Energy Agency and other nations and provide the necessary supply of oil, through such means as the coordinated release of its reserves if necessary.

Washington also wants to pressure Tehran to end its support of regional proxy forces, including in Yemen where Saudi forces have been fighting Iran-backed Houthis for four years.

Trump, who has repeatedly stressed avoiding new Middle East wars, seemed intent on preserving room to manoeuvr in a crisis that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had immediately called Iran's fault. Whether Saudi Arabia will be able to maintain its crude oil supply as before is a question which has no answer as of now.

"Today's press conference is going to be crucial - we have to wait for that really", said Olivier Jakob, managing director at consultant Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland.

A rebel group in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted a facility belonging to Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom's national oil company. Ahead of United Nations meeting, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "there will be no talks with the USA at any level", the Associated Press reported. For decades, Saudi Arabia has been the oil market's great stabilizer, maintaining a large cushion of spare production capacity that can be tapped in emergencies, such as the 2011 war in Libya.

The Saudi government called the attack an "unprecedented act of aggression and sabotage" but stopped short of directly pinning blame on Iran. "The policy of "maximum pressure" against the Iranian nation is worthless and all Islamic Republic of Iran officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the United States at any level", he said, quoted on his official website.

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks", the statement added.

As discussions continue, Pentagon officials may suggest taking new deterrent measures short of direct use of force, such as increasing the number of troops in the region and hardening USA defenses, officials said.

Iran rejected the allegations, and a government spokesman said there now is "absolutely no chance" of a hoped-for meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the U.N. General Assembly next week.

Europe's leading oil price measure, Brent crude, rose to $68 (£54.84) - a gain of more than 10pc and it had risen 18pc earlier in the day. Oil is also being supplied by some other states and countries. In June, when Trump was contemplating a missile strike against Iran, the Pentagon teed up a cyber option to help enable the strike.

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