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Saudi oil fields in the firing line of Gulf conflicts

Saudi oil fields in the firing line of Gulf conflicts
Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Rub' Al-Khali (Empty Quarter) desert produces a million barrels a day [Simon Dawson/Bloomberg]

Saudi Arabia's oil fields, responsible for almost a 10th of global crude production, are in the firing line. Recently, they've been targeted by air, sea and land.

Flaring tensions in the Persian Gulf have seen some of the the world's biggest crude deposits, along with processing and transport infrastructure and vessels, targeted by explosives-laden drones and bombings.

The threats to the kingdom's crude production and infrastructure shine a light on the risk to global oil supply given that state-owned Saudi Aramco is the world's largest exporter. Saudi Arabia's more than 100 crude deposits contain some 257 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, the world's biggest conventional finds.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., as Aramco is officially known, is able to pump as much as 12 million barrels a day. The company produced 10 million barrels daily during the first half of the year, keeping as a policy some 2 million barrels of capacity unused to allow it to react to any supply shortages. Aramco exports 7 million barrels of crude a day, more than any other company. This makes its role as a global swing producer and the security of its oil fields vital to global markets.

About three quarters of Aramco's daily output come from four main fields: Ghawar, Khurais, Safaniyah and Shaybah. Those main deposits are in the eastern part of the country, either tucked between dunes and below vast expanses of desert or sitting underneath the waters of the Persian Gulf. Most of that crude passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow shipping chokepoint leading out of the Gulf.

Below are descriptions of the main fields:

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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