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Aramco Says Virus Attacks Network, Oil Output Unaffected

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Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, is continuing to pump oil as usual after its computer network was attacked by a virus.

The parts of the network linked to oil production weren’t affected and its systems will resume full operations soon, the producer known as Saudi Aramco said in a statement, without being more specific. The virus entered the network through personal computers, according to the statement.

“In a market that is starting to focus more on geopolitical issues in the Middle East, the deepening of the idea that there may be parties intending electronic sabotage against oil operations is likely to be unsettling one,” Miswin Mahesh, an analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote today in a report.

Oil and nuclear facilities in Iran have previously been subject to a succession of cyber attacks including the Stuxnet worm last year and a virus dubbed Flame in May. The cyber worm Gauss, focused on the banking industry in Lebanon, was found last week, according to Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based information-technology security company.

Schlumberger Ltd. and Chevron Corp. may face similar cyber attacks because their networks are linked to the Aramco system, al-Hayat newspaper reported today, citing unidentified employees at the state company. Those companies have a presence in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where Saudi Aramco is based, the London-based daily said.

Iran denied that its nuclear facilities suffered a cyber assault that shut down computers and played music from the rock band AC/DC, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency reported on Aug. 1. The Foreign Ministry said in May that the attacks were being launched by hostile governments as part of a broader “soft war.”

Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, followed by Iraq and Iran, according to Bloomberg estimates. The kingdom pumped 9.88 million barrels a day last month, the data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Manama at wmahdi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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