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DAY OF THE DRONES: Saudi oil attack changes everything

Saudi Arabia’s oil production was cut in half after a swarm of explosive drones struck at the heart of the Kingdom’s oil industry and set the world’s biggest crude-processing plant ablaze. This changes everything in a 9/11 sort of way.

PortandTerminal.com, September 15, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Drone technology has been widely available to groups like the Houthis, the ones who claimed responsibility for this weekend’s massive drone strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil refineries, for years.

The real news this weekend is the message that the successful attack on Saudi’s oil refineries sent to the world. Even your most guarded, valuable infrastructure is vulnerable to our attacks. “The drones are getting better and we’re getting better at attacking you with drones” is the real message sent this weekend by the Houthis, Iranians or whomever Mike Pompeo identifies as the culprit.

“The drones are getting better and we’re getting better at attacking you with drones”

Saudi Arabia is widely known to spend billions of dollars annually protecting ports, pipelines and processing facilities. They would be foolish not to guard their golden oil goose and they’re certainly not foolish about their oil. The Saudi defences today though proved to be impotent as Houthis successfully knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production in one coordinated drone strike. Think about the message that that sends to high-ranking security and governmental officials globally.

Guns don’t work against a coordinated drone strike

At around 4:00 a.m. local time on Saturday, Saudi Aramco reported that it was dealing with fires at their Abqaiq facility and Khurais facility in Saudi Arabia. It was believed that the attack was done by multiple drones, as machine gun firing could be heard on the recordings of the adhan (Islamic call to prayer) near the facilities as the guards there fired to try to bring down the drones.

For all of their billions of dollars spent on security, the Saudi’s most important oil refineries were unable to defend themselves against technology that you and I can purchase at Best Buy. That’s what some call a “paradigm shift”.

Paradigm shift

In some ways, this weekend’s attacks are similar, but thankfully far less deadly, to the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago when a small group of radicalized men (Saudi Arabians again) weaponized airplanes, murdered 2,606 people and forever changed air travel as we know it.

Nevermind that Saudi officials claim that the refinery fires this weekend have been put out and things are being restored. That’s either true or it’s not and it doesn’t matter either way. The drones will continue to proliferate, improve technologically and make it easier for terrorists, criminals and so on to use to achieve their purposes.

Who is leading the charge on drone defence technology? PortandTerminal.com will be featuring a special issue on drone defence technology and would like to hear from you and/or your organization.

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