Tension is rising in the Middle East, the world's largest oil producing region, following an attack on four oil tankers Sunday and a drone attack on Saudi oil facilities Tuesday. Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the attacks pose a major challenge to the world’s oil supplies. Here is what we know of the attacks:

  • Saudi Arabia said Tuesday its oil facilities outside Riyadh were targeted by armed drones. The Arab kingdom has denounced the attacks as “cowardly” act of terrorism. Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have been fighting a battle with the Saudis since 2015, said the launched drone attacks inside the Arab kingdom.
  • The drone attack led to a fire and caused in minor damages at a pumping station, said Saudi officials. However, the attacks didn’t halt oil production or export of petroleum products.
  • On Sunday four oil tankers -- two of them Saudi and one each belonging to the UAE and Norway -- were damaged in what the Saudis termed as 'sabotage' attacks. The attacks took place near the UAE port of Fujairah. UAE said no one was injured in the attacks which the Saudis said had caused "significant" damage to their ships. UAE termed the attack a "dangerous development."
  • Fujairah is close to the strategically crucial Strait of Hormuz through which an estimated one-third of the world's oil exports pass.
  • Iran has sought more clarifications on the attack on the tankers, and alleged that it was a conspiracy by foreigners to destabilize the region and disturb its peace.
  • UAE sought U.S. help to assess the damage to the ships. Reports said initial investigation pointed to the involvement of Iran in the attacks.
  • The U.S. recently moved the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force, Patriot missiles and bombers to bulk up the forces already in the region, citing intelligence that Iran or its proxies may launch attacks on U.S. interests. 
  • Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen after President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran and imposed sanctions, which have hit the Iranian economy and its people hard.
  • Oil prices jumped Monday following the attacks on the tankers.
  • A Saudi Arabian Oilfield A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 99 miles from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2008. Photo: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji