Yemen's Maarib oil pipeline has resumed operations after a nine-month halt due to sabotage which left the poorest Arab country dependent on fuel donations.
Repairs to the country's main oil pipeline have been
completed and crude started flowing again on Sunday night, the operator said on
Tuesday, Reuters reported.
"We are trying to fill the pipeline right now. We still
have two to three more hours to start pumping to the floating vessel," the
SAFER official said.
Oil from the Marib oilfield is pumped to a terminal on the
coast and then carried by sub-sea pipeline to a large oil tanker, which has
been converted into a floating oil storage and loading facility.
Before being shut due to attacks by tribesmen in 2011, the
Maarib pipeline carried around 110,000 barrels per day of sweet, light crude to
the Ras Isa export terminal on the Red Sea coast, operated by the SAFER
Exploration & Production Operations Company.
Resumption of exports from Ras Isa could take nearly two
"It will probably take around 12-13 days before we have
enough volume in the floating vessel in order to make the first liftings,"
an official at the operating company said.
Several attacks on the pipeline last year stopped crude
flows to the country's main refinery in Aden, leaving it dependant on fuel
donations from its wealthy northern neighbour Saudi Arabia.
The pipeline was attacked and repaired in early 2011 but was
forced to shut again last October and there has been no crude flow in the
pipeline since, until this week.
Ongoing instability in the country, with simmering tension
between Islamic militants or disgruntled tribesmen and the government
continuing, leaves oil and gas pipelines in the country vulnerable to further
Maplecroft Middle East analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt told Upstream earlier this year that “given Yemen’s ongoing political transition, militants are likely to continue to target energy infrastructure to maintain pressure on Yemeni authorities”.
"I wonder when the next attack will be; today or tomorrow,"
a Western shipping source based in Yemen told Reuters on Tuesday.
"I am still doubtful it will remain operational long
enough for the vessel to fill," he added.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly attacked
by Islamist militants and disgruntled tribesmen since anti-government protests
created a power vacuum in 2011, disrupting exports from the small producer.
Earlier this month, Yemen's oil minister said the country
would resume oil exports from Maarib this week, estimating the lengthy outage had
cost the impoverished country up to $15 million a day in lost revenues.