Yemen loses $10-15 mln/day as oil exports halted

Yemen is losing up to $15 million a day in export revenue because violence has halted shipments from the oil-producing Maarib province, the oil minister said, adding the government would ensure the repair of a crude pipeline 'by force'.



Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have long been a target of attacks by militants in the unstable and impoverished country, but attacks on energy infrastructure have become more frequent since anti-government protests last year created a power vacuum.

"After exhausting all peaceful means, we will resort to force. The country is losing between $10 million to $15 million a day because oil exports from the Maarib fields have stopped," Minister Hisham Sharaf said on Friday.

Yemen's main Maarib oil pipeline, which carries crude to the Ras Isa export terminal on the Red Sea coast, was the target of three consecutive attacks in October last year alone.

"We will use force to repair the oil pipeline from Maarib to the Red Sea coast which was bombed last year, after engineering teams have been prevented from repairing it," Sharaf told Reuters.

The attacks on the pipeline have also forced Yemen's 150,000 barrel per day (bpd) Aden refinery to close, leaving the country more dependent on imports and donations.

Yemen's location on the strategically important Bab al-Mandab strait, through which millions of barrels of oil are shipped between Asia, Europe and the Americas, makes instability there a risk to global trade.

Saudi state oil giant Aramco has thrown one lifeline after another to its troubled southern neighbour.

The small, non-OPEC oil producer, which has important liquefied natural gas investments, has been chaotic since popular uprisings last year brought the 33-year rule of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to an end.

The Yemeni army notched up a major victory this week in its U.S.-backed offensive to drive al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country's south by recapturing strategic cities.

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