Abqaiq (Arabic: بقيق Biqayq), is a Saudi Aramcogated community and oil-processing facilities located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, located in the desert 60 km southwest of the Dhahran-Dammam-Khobar metropolitan area, and north of the Rub' al-Khali, the second largest sand desert in the world also known as the "Empty Quarter". The community was built in the 1940s by Aramco (now Saudi Aramco). The Abqaiq community had a population of approximately 1,500 in 2012, though the inclusion of the population outside the Saudi Aramco community brings this number closer to 30,000.
Abqaiq was the site of a terrorist attack attempt by al-Qaeda on 24 February 2006, targeting the oil processing facility. The news of the attack pushed oil prices up by 2 dollars. The damage, however, was immediately contained by Saudi Aramco. According to Khalid R. al-Rodhan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "even if some of the facilities were destroyed, Saudi Aramco has claimed that it has backup and redundant facilities to produce at near capacity". In a report about the incident, he concludes that "the attack against Abqaiq should not be seen as a turning point in either Saudi stability or the global energy market. Rather, it is evidence that al-Qaeda and other extremists groups will stop at nothing to disturb the global economy and international peace. It also signals that al-Qaeda is changing tactics to attack an area that will garner most attention and inflict most damage on the Saudi leadership, the U.S., and the international community."
However, a moderate to severe attack on Abqaiq would slow production from an average of 6.8 million barrels (1,080,000 m3) a day to 1 million barrels (160,000 m3). The chief purpose of Abqaiq is to remove hydrogen sulfide from crude oil and reduce the vapor pressure, making the crude safe to be shipped in tankers. Abqaiq is the world's largest facility for this stabilization.