Roundup: Attack on Saudi's oil facilities hurts Italian economy, experts say

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ROME, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Saturday's attacks on oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia last week destabilized world oil prices so much that they could drag down Italy's economy as the country works to boost economic growth, experts said.

Rising energy prices have a ripple effect on the global economy. But the blow is particularly hard for Italy, a country which imports almost all of its energy and is trapped in a prolonged weak economic growth.

"The price of oil and gas is a fundamental part of the economy," Giuliano Bifolia, head of analysis for the Association of Studies, Research, and Internationalization in Eurasia and Africa, told Xinhua. "This is not too big a problem on its own, but it will be a drag on Italy's chances to restart growth."

Echoing Bifolia's words, Riccardo Alfaro, research coordinator and head of the Global Actors Program at the Institute for International Affairs, a think tank, said, "the instability is a problem for a country in a fragile economic situation, like Italy."

The impact from the attacks "will be felt for a short while and then things will go back to normal. But if this kind of attack happens again, the impact could be greater," he added.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are still examining clues to find out who is behind the attacks and it is unclear what security precautions the kingdom will take in response to the attacks.

Drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's key oil facilities on Saturday knocked off 5.7 million barrels of daily crude production. The amount accounts for more than half of the country's total output, or over 5 percent of the world's total.

Oil prices rose again on Thursday as the market remained concerned about a possible supply shortage. The country's export-heavy economy is also feeling the toll from the sluggish economic growth across the European Union.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won on Sept. 10 a crucial vote of confidence in the Senate for his new pro-European coalition government of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party, paving the way for a pledged overhaul of the country's economy, among others.

The first formal signal about the new government's economic priorities will come on Sept. 27, when the Ministry of Economy is scheduled to release its document with updated economic and budgetary projections. Enditem

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