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Yemen resumes oil flows after repairs -sources

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 31 Dec 2012 12:59 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds details on Aden refinery)

SANAA, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Yemen's main oil pipeline, damaged in repeated bombings by armed men, resumed pumping crude on Monday after repairs, sources at state-run Safer oil company and the oil ministry said.

The Yemeni army has launched an assault in recent weeks using tanks and rockets on tribesmen who were blocking repairs to the Maarib oil pipeline, which was last blown up in November.

A source at the oil ministry said that around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Marib light crude were being pumped to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea.

"The quantity will be sent to Aden refinery to cover the needs of the local market," the source told Reuters.

Before a spate of attacks which began in 2011, the 270-mile Maarib pipeline carried around 110,000 bpd to Ras Isa.

The refinery has a capacity of 150,0000 bpd and resumed output in August.

The U.S.-allied Yemeni government depends heavily on tribesmen in its fight against Islamist militancy.

Under an agreement reached earlier this month between tribal chiefs and the government, tribes in Maarib were meant to stop militants from attacking the pipeline in return for a halt to air strikes in the area.

Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or disgruntled tribesmen since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished country.

Yemen's stability is a priority for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies because of its strategic position next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and shipping lanes, and because it is home to one of the most active wings of al Qaeda.

A long closure of the line last year forced the country's largest refinery at Aden to shut, leaving the small producer dependent on fuel donations from Saudi Arabia and imports. (Reporting by Mohamemd Ghobari in Sanaa and Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden; writing by Rania El Gamal; editing by Sami Aboudi and Jason Neely)

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