Yemen resumed pumping crude through its main oil export pipeline on Saturday, two days after armed tribesmen blew it up in the latest attack on the country's energy infrastructure, government officials and oil industry sources said.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or angry tribesmen since anti-government protests in 2011 created a power vacuum in the Arabian Peninsula country, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished state.
Oil Ministry officials said that pumping resumed on Saturday morning after engineers, backed by Yemeni government forces, repaired the rupture in the pipeline caused by Thursday's attack in the Serwah region in the central Maarib province.
"The assailants opened fire on the engineers to stop them from repairing the pipeline, but the force accompanying the engineers responded to the fire and chased the assailants away," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
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.
Yemen resumed oil pumping on Dec. 31 at a rate of around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) after a previous round of repairs to a pipeline which had carried around 110,000 bpd of Marib light crude to an export terminal on the Red Sea before a spate of attacks began in 2011.