Sana’a: Saboteurs blew up Yemen’s main oil pipeline that runs from the eastern Marib province to its west coast on Tuesday night, the Yemeni defence ministry announced on Wednesday.
“Subversive elements blew up the pipeline at kilometre 93 in the Sarwah region” between Sana’a and Marib, said a statement on the ministry’s news website 26sep.net.
The attack caused “a large fire” in the pipeline, it said, without mentioning whether crude exports had been interrupted.
The blast stopped flows from the Marib fields to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea, from which crude is shipped to Yemen’s main refinery in Aden.
Attacks on oil and gas pipelines by Al Qaida or by tribesmen seeking to win concessions from the central government are common in Yemen, an impoverished country that produces about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, mostly for export.
Oil sources said repair teams were being deployed to the area on Wednesday to fix the pipeline which was also bombed in February and January.
The pipeline used to carry around 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Marib light crude to Ras Isa, but Yemen said in December that oil was being pumped through the pipeline at a rate of around 70,000 bpd.
A long closure of the supply line last year forced the Aden refinery to shut, leaving the small oil producer dependent on fuel donations from Saudi Arabia and on costly imports.
In December, the army launched an offensive against tribesmen suspected of repeatedly sabotaging the pipeline, sparking clashes which left 17 people dead.
According to official figures, lost production due to pipeline attacks in the east cost the government more than $1 billion in 2012, while oil exports fell by 4.5 percent.
In July, Petroleum and Minerals Minister Hesham Abdullah said Yemen had lost more than $4 billion (Dh14.68 billion) in revenues since February 2011 as a result of such attacks.