SANAA (Reuters) - Flows of oil through Yemen's main crude export pipeline have stopped again after it was blown up by unknown attackers on Thursday morning, government and oil industry officials said.
Yemen resumed oil pumping on December 31 at a rate of around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the latest repairs to a pipeline which used to carry around 110,000 bpd of Marib light crude an export terminal on the Red Sea before a spate of attacks began in 2011.
Just 10 days after flows restarted, unknown attackers blew up the pipeline again by placing a roadside bomb near the line in Serwah area in the central Maarib province, a government security official said.
"The bombing of the pipeline made us stop the crude pumping from the fields to the export terminal," an oil ministry official told Reuters.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or angry 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 in 2011 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 Mohammed Ghobari, Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Daniel Fineren)