The headquarters of Saudi Aramco in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mary Catherine Wellons | CNBC

An explosion and fire struck a major Saudi Aramco oil processing facility Saturday in the kingdom’s east, but officials did not offer a cause for the blast.

Online videos apparently from Buqyaq, which is near Dammam in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, included the sound of gunfire in the background. Smoke rose over the skyline and glowing flames could be seen a distance away.

State media in Saudi Arabia did not immediately report on the incident and requests for comment to officials in the kingdom were not immediately acknowledged. Aramco did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.

The Dubai-based satellite channel Al-Arabiya first acknowledged the blaze, citing its own correspondent in the area. The channel said the blaze had been brought under control, without elaborating or offering a cause.

Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility there as “the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world.”

The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then later transports onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Estimates suggest it can process up to 7 million barrels of crude oil a day.

The plant has been targeted in the past by militants. Al-Qaida-claimed suicide bombers tried but failed to attack the oil complex in February 2006.

There was no immediate impact on global oil prices as markets were closed for the weekend across the world. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.

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Buqyaq is some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.



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