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Aramco Fully Restores Oil Output as It Recovers From Attacks

Anthony DiPaola and Manus Cranny

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco is producing more than 9.9 million barrels a day of crude as it fully recovers from the worst-ever attacks on its energy infrastructure.

Output reached that level on Sept. 25 and is a “little bit” higher now, Ibrahim Al-Buainain, chief executive officer of state-owned Aramco’s energy trading unit, said at Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia has also restored some spare capacity following the Sept. 14 attacks, he said.

The aerial attacks highlighted the fragility of global supply chains and the vulnerability of an industry that is Saudi Arabia’s lifeblood. They also underscored the risk to reliable energy flows from the Persian Gulf after a series of tanker bombings in May and June.

“On the 25th, yes, we reached that target of production,” he said. “We produce depending on the market and depending on capacity, so actually we are a little bit higher than this.” Aramco is maintaining crude exports at about 7 million barrels a day and pumping more than it did before the aerial strikes as it replenishes stockpiles, he said.

Aramco has said it’s committed to meeting demand from all of its customers and didn’t miss any contracted shipments. Oil markets surged after a swarm of explosives-laden drones and missiles struck some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest processing plants, knocking out about 5% of global crude supply.

Al-Buainain had initially expected the attacks to push oil prices higher by $10 a barrel. While Brent surged as much as $11.73 on the first trading day after the attacks, it has since given up most of that gain as Aramco quickly restored capacity and production and global demand remains a concern. Brent crude was $59.68 a barrel at 9:11 a.m. in Dubai, trading below the close on the day before the surprise assault.

Read: Saudi Oil Capacity Recovers Faster Than Expected From Attack

Aramco is building redundancy into its systems that allowed the company to be resilient after the damage to the Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais field, Al-Buainain.

It cut refinery runs at home in the days following the strikes to make more crude available to customers, while offering some of those buyers alternative grades to meet its supply commitments. Aramco Trading, which Al-Buainain heads, also bought refined products on the market, ostensibly to make up for any fuel shortfalls at home.

However, Al-Buainain said Aramco Trading was operating normally, without needing to buy alternative refined fuels to meet domestic demand or crude to supply international refinery ventures.

Aramco Trading, officially known as Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co., buys and sells crude produced in other countries and procures non-Saudi oil for the company’s joint-venture refiners.

(Updates with exports in fourth paragraph, crude price in sixth, trading in eighth.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net;Manus Cranny in London at mcranny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bruce Stanley at bstanley5@bloomberg.net, Amanda Jordan

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