U.S. stands ready to tap emergency oil reserve after Saudi attacks: DOE

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is prepared to tap U.S. emergency oil reserves if necessary after drone attacks shut oil output in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, a Department of Energy spokeswoman said.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry “stands ready to deploy resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets as a result of this act of aggression,” spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed credit for Saturday’s attacks on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility Abqaiq.

Perry directed department leaders to work with the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) “on potential available options for collective global action if needed,” Hynes said.

The IEA said on Twitter earlier in the day that it was in contact with Saudi authorities and other major oil-producing nations, and that markets for now are well-supplied.

The United States has occasionally coordinated with the IEA on collective draw downs of oil from international reserves.

The SPR, held in heavily-guarded underground storage caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts, currently holds nearly 645 million barrels, or about the amount the United States consumes in a month.

President Donald Trump has often urged countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Saudi Arabia is a member, to produce more oil to moderate crude prices. U.S. sanctions on OPEC members Iran and Venezuela have removed millions of barrels of oil from global markets.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Daniel Wallis