After oil pipeline bombing in Marib Court convicts 32 suspects [Archives:2007/1101/Front Page]

November 8 2007

By: Amel Al-Ariqi
MARIB, Nov, 7 ) Repairs on the Marib oil pipeline blown up by saboteurs Monday morning have been completed, said a Yemeni official on Tuesday.

Officials confirmed on Monday that the bombing did not affect export operations. However, Marib governor Aref Al-Zukua stated that the bomb caused leakage equivalent to 4,000 barrels.

The pipeline, which forms part of a network transporting crude oil from the Marib oil basin to storage tanks for export, was damaged by a bomb planted by unidentified culprits. There were no casualties.

Yemen's official News Agency SABA quoted Marib security official Ahmed Fander saying “a group of saboteurs was behind the explosion, which halted the flow of the oil.”

He stated that the culprits placed a time bomb under the pipeline. He added that Marib security is investigating the incident.

The pipeline has the capacity to transport 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Safer oilfields in Marib, 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of Sana'a, to Ras Issa terminal on the Red Sea.

Senior official at the Ministry of Oil and Minerals Abdulmalik Alama stated that the incident caused minor damage, affecting only the quantity of oil pumped for exportation for one day. He added that overall oil export operations were not affected due to containment of the incident by Safer company engineers immediately after the incident occurred.

No one was hurt in the attack, according to the official.

Yemen produces just 380,000 barrels of crude oil a day, and exports approximately 200,000 bpd (barrels per day), but it is not a member of the giant oil cartel OPEC.

Oil facilities under attack

The attack occurred two days before the conviction of 32 suspects accused of planning suicide attacks on oil and gas installations in the country and sentenced to as much as 15 years imprisonment.

The penal court, held on Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Sana'a, however, acquitted four other prisoners for lack of evidence, while six other top suspects, who were tried in absentia and remain at large, were sentenced to 10-15 years in prison.

The suspects were accused of planning to attack oil installations in the Marib and Hadramout provinces using rocket-propelled grenades in August 2006, when militants attacked a power station and a government building in Marib, some 140 kilometers (85 miles) east of the capital.

The attack occurred a day after Yemeni counterterrorism forces killed four Al-Qaeda militants suspected to be involved in a car bomb attack killing eight Spanish tourists and two Yemenis in Marib on July 2.

Al-Qaeda militants have been active in sabotage operations against petroleum facilities in the country. In 2002, militants bombed the French oil supertanker Limburg off Yemen's coast.