ADEN, (AFP) — Unidentified attackers early Tuesday blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen’s southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations, a security official said.
“Unknown gunmen blew up the gas pipeline… at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province,” said provincial security chief brigadier-general Ahmed Omeir.
He said the attack took place around 1:00 am Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday).
France’s Total has an almost 40 percent interest in the Balhaf plant.
The 320-kilometre (200-mile) pipeline linking Marib province to Balhaf, in Yemen’s mostly lawless south, has been repeatedly sabotaged by Al-Qaeda militants who remain active in region.
On May 13, suspected Al-Qaeda militants blew up the pipeline near Mayfaa, also in Shabwa, nearly three weeks after it was sabotaged on April 26, shortly after it was repaired following a similar March attack.
Yemen began exporting liquefied natural gas from Balhaf in 2009.
In May, a French security official working for Total was wounded and a Yemeni soldier killed when gunmen attacked their car in Sayun in the eastern province of Hadramawt.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has exploited the decline in central government control that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power in February.
Al-Qaeda-linked militants had captured Zinjibar, Jaar, Shuqra and other towns across Abyan, but government forces in May launched an all-out offensive and recaptured the towns the following month.