“Detailed satellite photos show extent of ‘surgical’ attack damage to Saudi Aramco oil facilities” CNBC


"Satellite photos released by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe reveal the surgical precision with which Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities were struck in attacks early Saturday.

The strikes, which unidentified U.S. officials have said involved at least 20 drones and several cruise missiles, forced Saudi Arabia to shut down half its oil production capacity, or 5.7 million barrels per day of crude — 5% of the world’s global daily oil production.

The images, first obtained by The Associated Press, show that at least 19 strikes were launched and 17 actually hit targets."  CNBC


I get a big kick out of those of you who think someone faked this attack for, what;

An excuse to go to war with Iran?

An opening gambit to get the Iranians to talk to Trump at the UN?   If so, that did not work.  Khamenei has said unequivocally that they are not going to talk to the US.

Mikey Pompeo is now going to travel to Saudi Arabia to see if he can jawbone the Saudis into saying that it was undoubtedly the Iranians who done it.  Would that be going on if the Saudis had been in the plot?

So, some of you think that the Saudis blew up their own processing plant for some nefarious reason.

Or, maybe the Izzies blew it up to start a war?

Will wonders never cease?  I mean you, not the attack.  pl



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57 Responses to “Detailed satellite photos show extent of ‘surgical’ attack damage to Saudi Aramco oil facilities” CNBC

  1. Aristophones says:

    Hurrah! Hurrah! I always cheer someone trying to tamp down the rampant paranoia and fantasy present in today’s online community. Honest evidence-based discussion takes work but is worth the effort.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Point taken.
    But the rush to proving that Iran “did it” makes about as much sense… even if they did.
    The Saudi’s have bought billions upon billions of air defense equipment from the U.S. For whatever reason it did not work.
    Qatar (Centcom) and Bahrain (5th Fleet Headquarters) are about 100 miles from where these attacks took place. Whether they were aware of it or not, they didn’t prevent it.
    Iran has said again and again that if we attack them, they will interpret it as an act of war, and come back with everything they have.
    So we are in a position in which we are potentially risking the lives of American service men and women for a foreign oil installation in a foreign country and maybe a 20 cent per gallon increase in the price of gasoline?
    Wouldn’t it be better to start thinking about defending major American cities from homemade drone/cruise missiles, perhaps by buying the Russian defense system at Khmeimim which has successfully resisted a dozen drone attacks?

  3. Norbert M Salamon says:

    the ones who could have caused [technical ability] the damage
    1., Israel’s Mossad – is not in their interest [too dangerous incase of war]
    2., The Borg/deep state/CIA – promoting war vs Iran is there but the act is too dangerous
    3.;, Iran and Proxies thereof in Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon against their interest; Iran’s military is primarily defensive
    4., Russia/China not in their interest
    5., Saudi – cutting their own throat/ I do not see how they could fake the damage with their technical ability.
    6., Houtie, diplomacy by other means
    from the probable shortfall of hydrocarbons, no one is really benefitting, as effects are primarily short term, and any major rise in price of oil [say 20/30 or more per barrel] is guaranteed to bring global depression [save possibly Russia as she is self-sufficient domestically in almost all respects] and financial collapse in West due to derivatives.

  4. turcopolier says:

    IMO the Houthis/ansarallah are tryin to win the war against SA.

  5. turcopolier says:

    The Saudi are laze and untrainable. they cannot defend themselves no matter how much equipment they buy.

  6. Eric Newhill says:

    The internet is full of silly conspiracy theories. It’s always the CIA/evil US govt secretly killing and destroying to further their nefarious plans; from the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 to this attack on the Saudi Oil refinery. And it’s usually a Brit/Australian/Canadian promoting the theory (occasionally a whacky American libertarian type or Leftist).
    Hey. Maybe AOC, Al Gore and Bernie Sanders used their campaign finances to fund a team of former CIA paramilitary types to launch the attack so as to further the Green New Deal. I mean they have motive. Just connect the dots!

  7. JohnH says:

    Those pictures show a lot of storage tanks that are basically in tact. Where are the burn and scorch marks? And would the tanks simply melt down from the intense heat from a fire burning LNG?
    The facilities in the lower left of the photo do show a lot of soot, but not the tanks.

  8. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Colonel with respect:
    I was trying to reverse the meaning of the famous saying war is politics by other means. I know that the Houthis are trying win and END the are.

  9. turcopolier says:

    TTG and I discussed this. The Yemenis did it.

  10. Jack says:

    I’ll take your analysis and judgment any day.
    The US government on the other hand is pushing the Iran did it story. After Iraq, Syria and Libya and Russia Collusion, I don’t get why anyone would trust our intelligence agencies. But as long is it conforms to the narrative they’ll get all the airplay.
    In any case this would imply that the Houthis have qualitatively improved their offensive capabilities by now taking the fight deep into Saudi territory.

  11. anon says:

    Will wonders never cease,do bears sh*t in the woods,do camels do the harlem shuffle.yeah yeah yeah.wonder what happened to those russian nuclear missiles that just went kakakakaboom a few weeks ago.

  12. J says:

    This world is crazy, CRAZY. Reason I say that is that the ‘former’ Cigar-store-president John Bolton gets fired, and not 1 day, 1 day later has employment, self-employment. For Bolton it’s SUPER PAC time. Bolton heads 2 PACs. His new HQ is just 4 blocks away from the White House. Bolton has a list of Senators he’s helping in the 2020 elections. His first $10k will given to the 5 he says are committed to a safe national security policy — Joe Heck, Tom Cotten, among others.
    On another note, what to make of the SVR’s inroads against the FBI CI. Move, counter-move.
    Back to the main subject. I agree with you and TTG regarding the Yemenis. Question is, will they win their war against SA in the end?

  13. Terence Gore says:

    I’m one of those whacky guys. Here is a short clip Architect & engineers for 911 Truth, 4 year study by University of Fairbanks Engineering dept into bldg 7 collapse at 5:20 pm on 9/11/2001. The government model is based on fires bringing down the building by thermal expansion of one beam walking off it’s seat causing one column to lose it’s integrity then progressive collapse of the whole building. A & E says all structural columns needed to lose their integrity at the same time to simulate what happened in the real world. The government story does not make sense to me. It looks like a controlled demolition but admittedly my opinion is not a scientific one.

  14. different clue says:

    Why would the Houthis care about a global depression? What would they lose in a global depression? Their near-subsistence mountain lifestyle?
    Maybe as-well-as trying to win the war with KSA by direct means, the Houthis also think that those in the West who do have something to lose from a global great depression might force the KSA to give up the fight before KSA drives the Houthis into enough attacks on KSA’s fragile brittle “steel-tube spiderweb” of pipelines and stuff that a global depression might occur.
    Since the Houthis have nothing to fear from a global depression and possibly something to gain from elevating the West’s fear of a global depression.

  15. MP98 says:

    I met a Brit who had been a civilian contract trainer to the Saudi AF.
    He said they were hopeless.
    Covered up a wing crack with grease and said “inshallah” God willing.

  16. elkern says:

    My pet theory, which I don’t take seriously: inside job (KSA), related to MBS’s recent firing of prior Aramco CEO. I don’t have a real good story for it; maybe, revenge for the firing, and/or torpedoing the planned Aramco IPO.
    No real evidence, of course. But it fits a few observations:
    – early reports indicated big hit; prices spiked, but dropped back down today
    – spectacular fires were extinguished amazingly quickly
    – Aramco says Zero injuries!?
    – public pix show holes but very little fire damage
    – big smoke plumes, but all coming from places outside the plants?
    It’s a cute little theory, but I agree with Col Lang & TTG – the Yemenis did it (and I’m rooting for them).

  17. JamesT says:

    Are we to understand, Colonel, that you and TTG believe all of the drones/missiles came from Yemen and that none came from Iraq or Iran? I’ve seen reports that the attack consisted of drones and cruise missiles, and that the drones came from Yemen and the missiles came from Iraq (or according to some reports, Iran).

  18. walrus says:

    1. when gas burns it doesn’t leave soot.
    2. The steel won’t melt.

  19. turcopolier says:

    TTG can speaak for himself. I think it all came from Yemen but I doubt that the neocons and company will admit that.

  20. JohnH says:

    Here’s what a storage tank looked like after a fire in S. Korea … nothing like those shown so far in Saudi Arabia, which are entirely intact, except for possible puncture holes.

  21. doug says:

    Ah, but they are the perfect customer. Buys a lot of expensive stuff and minimal ability to use it.
    Another issues is analyzing why the attack wasn’t discovered until the smoke rose.
    Assuming there are numerous audio recording devices around the Kingdom, it shouldn’t be all that hard collect a large sample, sync the clocks and adjust for timing variations/drift, and get a pretty good idea what the route was. Certainly there are also radar logs that can be examined closely too.

  22. turcopolier says:

    Unless the Saudis shut down the air defense stuff.

  23. Yes, I say Yemen carried out this attack just as they said they did in their news conference. We have film of their missile/cruise missile/drone capabilities. The limited damage inflicted on the SA complex seems to be in line with those capabilities, although most of the BDA is conjecture. We have little data to draw any real conclusions. They certainly didn’t devastate the target, but they inflicted enough damage to shock the bejeezus out of the Royals and the rest of the world. It shouldn’t have come as a complete shock. The Houthis have launched a number of drone/missile attacks on distant targets before this. I’m sure they’ll launch more in the future.
    Another point on BDA. We did a detailed target analysis of the Everett LNG terminal in Boston including tours and interviews with the operators. Then we kayaked across the bay and up the Mystic River to hit the target as a training exercise. We learned LNG is not very flammable. Don’t expect a lot of catastrophic explosions and fireballs. The critical points to hit were not at all spectacular. Keep this in mind if and when we learn more about what damage was actually done in this strike.

  24. JP Billen says:

    The Saudis covered up the previous Houthi drone and missile attacks. This time they can’t because of the large presence of Aramco workers. So they try to fob it off on Iran so as not to lose face. They do not want to admit they were bested by the little guys.
    Pompom is covering up for Saudi incompetence.

  25. PRC90 says:

    Terrance, a controlled demolition of an entire building would require hundreds of man-hours of work in surveying and the precise placement of explosive and the routing of detonating cord or wiring. To do that would require the demolition of office tenant fitouts, suspended ceilings and security features within occupied office space. This would have been somewhat obvious, and could not have been done overnight.
    Any theoretical ‘bombers’ themselves could not have just wandered in disguised as airconditioning repairmen.
    People always look for explanations, but this theory is not practical.

  26. Doug, Houthi cruise missiles would fly pretty damned low. I doubt ground-based radar would pick them up. Satellite and airborne surveillance platforms is another story.

  27. Matt says:

    of course the Yemeni’s staged this attack,
    sure the Yemeni’s get a bit of help from Iran but it’s a fraction of the support the Saudi’s get from FUKUS,
    if we pulled every western technician out of Saudi tomorrow the entire country would probably grind to a halt in a few weeks.
    although I’ve been aware that the Yemeni’s have been developing their own branches of missiles and UAV’s I must admit this oil installation attack appears much more sophisticated than I’d thought possible up till now,
    in the desperation to pin this on Iran no one seems to want to point out the attack appears to have come in from the north east, Yemen is to the south, Iran is to the east and Iraq is to the north,
    I don’t know if the chosen direction of the final run in to target was for operational reasons or to further confound analysis and obfuscate attribution, one can only speculate,
    that this event has spawned numerous ‘theories’ isn’t unusual given the scarcity of hard facts, the economic and strategic significance of the target, the current US/Iranian friction, Netanyahu’s fragile hold on power in the face of another election and Israel’s incessant banging on about bombing Iran for decades,
    all in all you have to admit the Yemeni’s have pulled off quite a spectacular stunt!
    go Yemen!

  28. JJackson says:

    JohnH, Walrus et al
    I have no engineering expertise but aren’t these two very different types of tank. The Aramco tanks look like they were designed to hold gas at high pressure and would be of much thicker steel also, as there would be no oxidants in the tank, the gas would not burn until clear of the tank and mixed with enough air. Fire would not get into the tank until it was almost empty and the pressure equalised.

  29. Fredw says:

    So the US government is asserting that the forces and surveillance that we have in place are unable to detect, much less stop, an attack on Saudi oil production. It took two days to even figure out what happened. If you take the government statement at face value, that seems scarier than Houthis with drones.

  30. PRC90 says:

    TTG, to continue from your second last sentence: We once had an attack exercise on a bulk iron ore loading facility (features: ocean, night, rain). We were able to inflict a theoretical 3 month reduction of 98% of it’s capacity with 20Kg of hand-placed shaped charges on a specific and relatively small piece of equipment that was actually undefended by the Infantry company in situ.
    I do not know what terminal guidance these Iranian-inspired but Yemeni-launched platforms have, but I suspect that for now their HE weight / CEP will limit them to kills only on large sized targets.
    Unfortunately, these abound. If the Yemenis succeed in blowing an empty B777 on the ground at King Abdulaziz International, with timely local intel, then both the airline operators and their insurers will likely give Saudi airspace a miss – not a bad payoff for shots worth probably @ USD $5,000.

  31. Norbert M Salamon says:

    I was referring to the ability of remaining major producers and Wall Street types to raise and maintain prices much above $60/barrel without crashing the western economies, plus developed Far East, regardless of KSA Us strategic reserve and other production issues.

  32. PRC90 says:

    My concern is that they will use their IADS in chaotic and frightful ways.
    By now numerous Saudi AD people will have been given the blame for last week’s failure, and their replacements will be ready to use those Patriots and Hawks against any possible threat. Although the suppliers are providing the maintenance contract servicing, I believe that launch command authority and targeting are in Saudi RSADF hands.
    When the next UAV swarm attacks occur, I suggest that civilian airline aircraft within range would be at risk.

  33. PRC90 says:

    And they could fly slow as well, such as over a 4-lane highway during their night ingress phase. In doing so they would probably not paint on AD radar as moving targets (as well as being passed by Saudi ‘Princes’ in fast cars).
    Although the Iranian-sourced PR photos show a laminar ‘high-speed’ wing, much could be done with simple hydraulics to fit retractable slow speed lift devices that could be cleaned up prior to a higher speed terminal phase.
    These really are devilish little things, and will present a great threat when used within the Iranian’s ‘swarm’ doctrines.

  34. walrus says:

    You are not comparing apples with apples. The korean images are of concrete oil tanks. The abqaiq tanks are gas tanks – entirely different design and technology. They are thick walled pressure vessels. The korean tank steel. roof has not melted either, it simply got hot enough to soften to the point where it can’t support its own weight so it just folded up.

  35. johnklis56@gmail.com says:

    Yes…and notice the symmetry (exactly in the same place on all 4 tanks) of the holes on the 4 storage tanks(which actually represent blow-out pressure valve locations according to informed sources…not punctures from projectiles). Remarkable accuracy of ordinance vs pressure blow-out valves doing their job?

  36. johnklis56@gmail.com says:

    An alternate take on the situation which is also plausible from the Asia Times:
    “Indeed, Russian and Turkish pressure on Iran’s President Rouhani to withdraw Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps forces from Syria might have motivated Saturday’s drone and/or cruise missile attack on Saudi oil production plants, strategic analysts in several countries believe. The IRGC may have instigated the attacks to preempt a deal that would have reduced its forces in Syria after a bloody multi-year campaign against Sunni rebels backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
    As a collateral benefit, torpedoing any possible chance for a Trump-Rouhani meeting at the upcoming New York United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) may have been another aim.
    IRGC Commander Qasem Suleimani controls a state within the Iranian state and envisions a permanent Iranian presence in Syria anchored by Shi’ite military settlers recruited from Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Iran. Russia and Turkey oppose Suleimani’s ambitious scheme and have considerable leverage to bring to bear on Iran’s elected government. The attack on the Aramco oil plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field may have been a power play by the IRGC to prevent Rouhani from restricting IRGC operations in Syria.
    Iran’s ambitions in Syria have also raised concerns in Moscow. Although Russia and Iran both back the Assad regime against Syrian rebels, Russia is anxious to limit the presence of the IRGC in Syria now that the threat to its Syrian ally has receded. Earlier this year, Russian-backed militias clashed with the IRGC in Aleppo.
    According to sources with detailed knowledge of Putin’s thinking, Iran’s aggressiveness in Syria complicates Russia’s relationship with the United States as well as with Israel, the region’s strongest military power. Russia has looked the other way while Israel conducted hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria against Iranian forces and their allies, including Hezbollah, although Russia has occasionally complained about particular Israeli attacks. Meanwhile, Russia reportedly uses Israeli-designed drones for reconnaissance in Syria. Russia’s working relationship with the Israeli Defense Forces is chilly but efficient. Israel prefers the predictable Assad regime to the Sunni jihadists who might replace it, and Russia has no objection to Israel’s efforts to degrade Iranian military capabilities.
    At a Sept. 12 summit in Sochi, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Putin reportedly agreed to remove Iranian bases in Syria to a line 80 kilometers from the Israeli border.
    Security analysts speculate that Rouhani was ready to accept Putin’s demand and that the IRGC acted to pre-empt such an agreement.
    Details of the attack on the Saudi oil facilities remain sketchy. At a background press briefing today, Defense Department officials affirmed that the attacks came from the north, that is, from the southern tip of Iraq or Iran. The Defense Department believes that the 19 impacts came from both drones and cruise missiles, although it cannot confirm that. Remarkably, there is no evidence that any air defenses attempted to engage the incoming weapons, or that radar tracked any of the weapons before impact.”
    The absence of evidence suggests what a former Pentagon official described as a “colossal intelligence failure.” The US has no good options available to counter this act militarily.

  37. glupi says:

    The parallels between Saudi Arabia and Louis XVI’s France seem striking to me. Just a revenue fall was missing
    The loosening of the screws, the hope of reform may make social and economic inferiors act on their discontent. The discontented abund – recently dispossessed royal branches, minorities, foreign servants treated as slaves, even expats eager to drink alcohol in public. If there are those willing to supply them with weapons….and with such rich spoils there will be
    It’s one step to women knitting by the light of Bugatti La Voiture Noires in flames.

  38. PRC90 says:

    I have an ex-RAAF tech friend with similar stories. On the first night of Saddam’s contribution to GW1, he woke up to sirens and wild screaming from outside the window, where he saw hundreds of panicked Saudi military personnel running aimlessly in circles.
    Then someone in his chain opened the door and threw him a set of NBC gear and a pistol and told to get to the shelter due inbound air strike.
    His stories included Saudi trainees working on live 415 volt AC avionics ‘without a care in the world’.

  39. glupi says:

    Another issue – drones as such
    Anyone can get one. No oversight whatsoever.
    A neighbour is fooling around with a drone. I am thanking my lucky stars that it isn’t noiseless, as the guy is a nosy Parker, could easily put a camera on it and visit around uninvited.
    We are increasingly exploited without our knowledge, let alone our consent. Alexa. Secretly-installed software on phones. Remotely-activated smart appliances, cameras and microphones on personal devices. Leaks of personal data by banks and medical institutions. Lies by pharmaceutical and foodstuff companies. Faulty manufacturing processes in airplane companies
    Honestly? It’s getting a bit much.
    Maybe it’s time to tell the companies Enough Is Enough. And mean it. And take control over our lives back.


    Fantasy, but a good fantasy.
    What relationship does the Russian Federation have with the United States but one of managed hostility?

  41. doug says:

    Agree on both points.
    Where’s ARAMCO going to get the capital needed? What’s going to happen to their long term bonds? Who would bet on getting paid back?
    And there is the wider issue of the perceived decline of the West (USA, Europe, Japan, etc.) It’s clear to me there has been and is a stronger perception of Western weakness in most of the World outside the West. Perceptions of one’s strengths/weaknesses combined with that of others often result in decisions regardless of reality.
    As I understand it, bringing objectivity is a if not the major function of each country’s intelligence services. I hope they, and especially we, are good at it. And attention is paid to it.

  42. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Re: “The Saudi are laze and untrainable. they cannot defend themselves no matter how much equipment they buy.”
    I certainly do not want to question the truth of that (I have zero insight into this matter), but do wonder if that is the case how the current dynasty came to rule the geographical area that they do rule. Cf.

  43. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Further study of Wikipedia shows their by far most detailed article on the subject is:

  44. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    The House of al-Saud were fighting other “benighted” medieval warriors in the process of unifying what is at the moment Saudi Arabia. They were lucky. Rusty rifles and equipment that you really have little interest in won’t “do it” any more.

  45. elkern says:

    Thx. This (LNG not very flammable) probably explains the lack of apparent secondary damage on the “onions”. I had a hard time imagining how four perfect holes in a row wouldn’t lead to more of mess in the immediate area.

  46. mikey says:

    John I work in West Texas at a facility that has NGL vessels. ours are shaped differently, but are still thick-walled stainless steel pressure vessels containing what is essentially a mixture of butane, propane, ethane, etc that is removed during the crude oil stabilization process to be later shipped via pipeline to be further broken down into their individual components.
    If you were to knock a hole in the vessel with a charge of some sort, it would burn like a big ass Bic lighter until all the gas pressure blew down. There would be little in the way of smoke marks on the vessel except for some melted insulation and no vessel failure except for the initial hole. (No vessel failure is assuming the flame wasn’t shooting out onto an adjacent vessel, weakening it.)

  47. Unhinged Citizen says:

    The Colonel appears to be correct. Here are the remains of the drones, showing a mix of cruise missile type weapons and much smaller drones, resembling what would a generation ago be called RC aircraft:
    Perhaps it was a mixed attack, like the Israelis have demonstrated against Syrian air defenses: a swarm of smaller, cheaper drones confuses and over-saturates the defensive capabilities of the air defense system operators, while the missiles with larger payloads deliver the knock-out blow.

  48. harry says:

    I am coming across very persistent briefing saying that the US absolutley knows the cruise missiles and drones came from Iran.
    But if that were so, these missiles would have gone very close to or even right over US military facilities in the area. Centcom and naval facilities. Did they not attempt to shoot those projectiles down. Did they see then?

  49. Unhinged Citizen says:

    Jesus, you 9-11 freaks are still at it with your Youtube-grade evidence?
    Even if it WAS some sort of demolition, which I see no credible evidence for, it was nearly TWO DECADES AGO, and any political capital meant to be gained from engineering this event have long been extracted, and the people involved are either dead or retired.
    Most of the 9-11 obsessed are frothing anti-Americans, including my father, who was brought up immersed in communist propaganda and genuine American atrocities in the Vietnam theatre.

  50. artemesia says:

    Just curious —
    When Pahlavi’s Iran was a prime customer for US weaponry, were the Iranians as incapable of using it as the Saudis are?

  51. artemesia says:

    Surely the Yemenis did not develop the technology on their own; Iran was involved at least to the extent of tech transfer. Right?

  52. turcopolier says:

    they were better students than the Saudis but not great.


    Iranians were better students, learning the technology form the Western Europeans and the Russians.

  54. turcopolier says:

    I was referring to learning to run a whole military force in combat, not just learning to handle technology.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I see now. Then Iranians were taught by War.

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