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Houthis Want To Sell Crude To Fund Fuel Imports

The leader of the Houthi uprising in Yemen, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, has asked the United Nations to sell a cargo of crude to generate revenues that will be used for the purchase of fuel and salaries for public sector employees, Reuters reports, citing a tweet by the rebel leader.

“We call on the U.N. and the Security Council to put in place a mechanism to sell Yemeni crude oil, including the oil in the (floating storage tank),” Al-Houthi tweeted, referring to a cargo of crude that has been floating off the coast of the country since the uprising that led to a war with Saudi Arabia began four years ago.

Oil used to be a vital export commodity of one of the poorest countries in the Middle East but the war has put a stop to that. Oil has moreover become a point of conflict between the Houthis, who control most cities in Yemen, and the Saudi-backed Yemeni forces loyal to the government that the Houthis ousted.

Last August, the pro-government forces that control the oil-rich Shabwa province announced the first export cargo of crude since 2015, of half a million barrels. The oil was offered in an open tender, in which 35 companies from around the world took part. The winner was a Chinese company.

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The Houthis have accused Saudi Arabia of stealing more than half of the country’s oil production in collaboration with French Total—a company that has been present in Yemen since before the war.

Despite these accusations, however, there is little the rebels could do to stop the Saudi-backed government from producing and exporting oil, apparently. Earlier this year, the government even said it planned to restore production to levels high enough to allow for exports of 75,000 bpd.

“We will maintain production from four blocks and are planning to build a pipeline to Arab Sea (Arabian Sea) to resume exports from these blocks,” oil minister Aws Abdullah Al-Awd told Reuters in February. The plans also involve raising crude oil production to 110,000 bpd this year. The Saudi-backed government controls Yemen’s oil and gas fields, while the Houthi rebels supported by Iran holds the country’s capital, Sanaa, and an oil terminal on Yemen’s west coast.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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