Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has donated 3 million barrels of crude oil to impoverished southern neighbour Yemen, the state news agency Saba reported on Wednesday.
“King Abdullah has instructed to provide 3 million barrels of crude oil in donations to Yemen,” the poorest Arab country’s oil minister, Amir al-Aidarous, was quoted as saying.
A blast on the small, non-OPEC producer’s main pipeline in March, for which angry tribesmen were suspected, has stopped the flow of crude, leaving its biggest Aden refinery dry and leading to fuel shortages across the country.
With no crude flow, Yemen increased its imports of oil products , but al-Aidarous was reported as saying that cash problems had stopped shipments.
“The spot purchase of oil derivatives stopped as companies refused to sell, because the finance ministry and the central bank could not pay the amount required,” he said.
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded on Friday when rockets struck his Sanaa place, in what officials said was an assassination attempt.
Over 200 people have been killed and thousands have fled in the past two weeks as fighting has intensified. Angry demonstrators have been demanding Saleh’s departure for five months.
l-Aidarous said he expected the first crude shipment to land in the port of Aden, home to Yemen’s 130,000 barrel per day refinery, carried by a Yemeni vessel that will load from Yanbu, on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
The crude will be refined at Yemeni refineries, he added.
Sources said in May that Yemen was in talks with Saudi Arabia to buy up to 2 million barrels of crude oil.
An industry source, who declined to be named, told Reuters the crude allocated would be Arab Light and could be delivered between this month and July.
Non-OPEC producer Yemen had a total crude oil output of around 260,000 bpd in 2010. Around 110,000 bpd of that is light crude, which is in short supply globally after Libyan output came to a virtual standstill due to a revolt there.