Tribesmen seize Yemen’s only gas terminal in Shabwa
Armed Yemeni tribesmen have reportedly taken control of Yemen’s sole gas export terminal at the Gulf of Aden as crisis continues unabated in the country.
According to Yemeni military sources, the tribesmen managed to seize the Balhaf plant in the southern province of Shabwa on Tuesday after the soldiers in charge of protecting the gas terminal surrendered.
The gas terminal is operated by the Yemen LNG firm, with Total, a French multinational integrated oil and gas company, having a stake of around 40 percent in it.
Yemen LNG said it has stopped working at the terminal due to a “force majeure” and will begin evacuating the site of its personnel.
The Yemeni energy firm added that due to “further degradation of the security situation in the vicinity of Balhaf,” it has decided to stop production and exporting operations.
On Monday, the tribesmen captured two bases belonging to the Yemeni army near the terminal.
Yemen LNG still in control: Total
Meanwhile a spokesman for the French Total said a few hours after the incident that the gas export terminal is still being controlled by operators, Yemen LNG.
“Yemen LNG informs us that no intrusion has been made through the perimeter of the factory. The security of the site has been maintained,” added the spokesman for Total, which holds a 40-percent stake in Yemen LNG.
Total’s announcement contradicts claims by a local military source who said soldiers protecting the site had abandoned their positions.
The development comes as Saudi Arabia’s pounding of neighboring Yemen enters its 20th day.
In the latest airstrikes on Tuesday, Saudi warplanes targeted areas in the provinces of al-Bayda, Sana’a, Shabwa and Ad Dali’, killing and wounding a number of people, including women and children.
Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 without a UN mandate in a bid to restore power to Yemen’s former fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating. Many international aid organizations have sought clearances to dispatch medical and other humanitarian supplies by air and sea to civilians in need.
Colonel Sharaf Luqman, the spokesman for Yemen’s armed forces and popular committees, said in a press conference on Monday that civilians and Yemeni infrastructure have been the target of the Saudi aggression against his country, adding, “Saudi Arabia is the international supporter of terrorism.”
Close to 2,600 people have been killed in the Saudi aggression, the spokesman said, adding that the Yemeni people will strongly respond to Riyadh’s war.