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As Saleh Launches LNG First Phase; Domestic Gas Crisis Surfaces Again

  Written By: Moneer Al-Omari (YEMEN POST STAFF) 
  Article Date:
November 24, 2008



Dozens of cars were seen lined up in rows in front of hundreds of petrol stations early Saturday morning to fuel their cars and buses with gas.

Media sources reported the crises in most southern provinces, particularly in Aden where a gas cylinder is sold in the black market for YR 1,000. This crisis comes only one day after President Saleh launched gas exports from Balhaf Plant in Shabwa Province.

Several citizens expressed anger over the unavailability of gas and demanded authorities to stop its exports once locals do not find it. Others stress that some parties, especially some merchants, monopolize gas to create the impression that the country suffers a real crisis.

"We, as drivers, face such crises quite often. We got used to them. Still, I do not know why these crises take place," said bus driver Ali Al-Hababi who was waiting for his bus to be fueled for hours.

President Saleh Launches the first phase

President Saleh launched last Wednesday the first phase of liquefied gas exporting project, which includes pumping gas from production field (bloc 18) in Mareb's Safer to export facility in Shabowa's Balhaf. The gas pipeline stretches for 322 km.

The project comprises two plants for liquefying gas at a total capacity of 6.9 million cubic meters per year, as well as two tanks for the natural gas holding about 140,000 cubic meters each, a 680-meter terminal for loading and unloading tankers with gas. There are also other facilities including a small airport, residential buildings for workers, workshops, etc.

According to Saleh, the first shipment of the liquefied gas will be exported early next May. 

Over 12,000 workers, 60 percent Yemenis, work in this project that provided other indirect jobs for thousands who worked in extending the gas pipeline from Safer to Balhaf.

Saleh also revealed that the project will operate four stations generating 80 megawatt of electricity and hinted that the project is the first of its type in the Middle East, calling on leading companies and businessmen to invest in Yemen's open fields of oil off-sea and in-land, and in minerals.

Liquefied Natural Gas is considered among the strategic projects and its total costs mount to $4 billion. It is predicted to serve development in Yemen and provide job opportunities to thousands of citizens. 

Experts warn that Yemen's oil and gas reserves are about to deplete and the country is predicted to run out of oil by 2017. One diplomat says that the country's prospects get worse every month.

Both gas and oil make up about 90 percent of the country's exports and are the main source of hard currency. The drop in oil prices and later the expected depilation will be catastrophic for the Yemeni economy, according to observers.