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Yemen tribesmen { December 28 1998 }

Tribesmen blow up Yemen's main oil pipeline
December 28, 1998
Web posted at: 3:16 AM EST (0816 GMT)

SANAA, Yemen (Reuters) -- Yemeni tribesmen have blown up the country's main oil pipeline but the extent of the damage and the effect on output were unclear, an official source said on Monday.

"A group of tribesmen blasted the Marib pipeline early on Saturday. The fire is still going on," the source said.

The source said the explosion occurred near Sarwah in Marib province, about 170 km (105 miles) east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa. The 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) Marib oil fields are operated by U.S. Hunt Oil and Exxon Corp (XON.N).

Yemen's Oil Ministry and oil company officials were not immediately available for comment.

The explosion brought to 19 the number of attacks since June on the 420 km (260 mile) pipeline, which has an average throughput of about 145,000 to 150,000 bpd.

The pipeline carries oil from Marib to the Red Sea port of Ras Isa.

Yemen's al-Ayam newspaper said on Sunday tribal leaders had issued a warning to oil workers to leave the Marib oil fields.

"The warning called on workers to leave their jobs in the Marib oil fields for their own safety," the newspaper said.

Many workers had abandoned the fields, it added.

The newspaper did not identify the tribal leaders but said they regarded the Marib oil fields as the "private property" of a local tribe.

Yemen was the scene of protests in June after the government raised prices of fuel and other goods as part of economic reforms.

More than 30 people were killed, most of them in fighting between tribesmen and government forces in the Marib area.

The region's tribesmen have also been demanding compensation for repeated floodings.

Yemen produces about 390,000 bpd of crude, the main source of revenue for the Arab country.

Copyright 1998 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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