Yemen in Oil Exploration Deal with Total

Source: Reuters 2/11/2010, Location: Middle East

Yemen, battling to turn around its economy, has signed a preliminary deal with France's Total for oil exporation in its southeast for an investment of $32 million, state media said.

Yemen's state news agency said Total will invest $32 million in two stages in oil exploration in sector 85 of Yemen's Shabwa province, and will dig at least four exploratory wells.

Total is already operating in Yemen, a small oil producer with output of around 300,000 barrels per day.

A $4.5 billion Total-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Yemen started production in October, with a 322-km pipeline linking gas fields in Maarib, east of Sanaa, to the coast.

Yemen last month boosted security at oil and gas facilities to guard against militant attacks days after the government declared open war on al Qaeda.

The Yemen-based wing, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has strongholds in Yemen's eastern province of Hadramaut and the towns of Maarib and Shabwa, where oil and gas fields are located.

Yemen, also battling a northern Shi'ite rebellion and southern secessionists, has come under heightened pressure to act against al Qaeda since an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound plane on Dec. 25 by a Nigerian student with ties to Yemen.

Security officials said new precautions at oil and gas facilities included sending extra security forces and police to guard them.

Impoverished Yemen is an oil producing minnow in a region of export giants such as neighbour and top exporter Saudi Arabia. Yemen relies on oil revenues for 70-75 percent of public revenue and over 90 percent of export earnings.


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