Sana’a: Saboteurs on Monday blew up a main pipeline linking oil fields between Yemen’s eastern Marib province and the capital Sana’a, “partially” interrupting the flow of crude, a local government official said.

“Unknown saboteurs blew up the pipeline at dawn in Wadi Abida” in Marib province, the official said, requesting anonymity.

As a result “oil flow was partially interrupted from the pipeline” that runs 320 kilometres from the Safer oilfields in Marib to an export terminal at the Red Sea, said the official.

The explosion caused a fire and plumes of smoke could be seen over the explosion site from many kilometres away, according to residents reached by telephone.

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.

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 (Dh3.67 billion) in 2012, while oil exports fell by 4.5 per cent.

In July, Petroleum and Minerals Minister Hesham Abdullah said Yemen had lost more than $4 billion in revenues since February 2011 as a result of such attacks.