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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 16 August 2018

Yemen exports the first crude pumped since civil war began

Shipment of 500,000 barrels was from resumed production in Shabwa province

Saudi soldiers walk by oil tanker trucks delivered by Saudi authorities to support charities and NGOs in Marib, Yemen. Reuters
Saudi soldiers walk by oil tanker trucks delivered by Saudi authorities to support charities and NGOs in Marib, Yemen. Reuters

Yemen has exported its first shipment of newly produced crude oil since civil war broke out in 2015, a milestone for the Arab world's poorest country as it seeks to overcome economic losses from the conflict.

The 500,000 barrels of crude were from resumed production in the S2 block in the Aqla area of Shabwa and were shipped from the Rezum oil terminal in the southern province, the oil and minerals ministry said.

The shipment was awarded to a Chinese petroleum company based on Brent crude rates after a global tender in which 35 companies took part, according to a ministry statement reported in the state-owned Saba news agency on Wednesday.

The ministry said Shabwa and other oil-producing provinces would receive 20 per cent of the revenues from crude they produce, maintaining a policy introduced by President Abdrabu Masur Hadi after he was elected in 2012.

The ministry is working to restart production in the remaining oil blocks in Shabwa, Hadramawt and Marib provinces, the secretary to the oil minister, AbdulAziz Al Oulaqi, told The National.

The government has re-established control in these provinces with the help of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition which intervened in the war at Mr Hadi's request in March 2015. Large areas of northern Yemen including the capital, Sanaa, remain under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Fresh talks to end the war will be held in the Swiss city of Geneva next month, diplomatic sources told the Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is expected to announce the details to the Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday.

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Mr Griffiths briefed ambassadors of the Arab Coalition, which includes the UAE, on Thursday morning before reporting to the council.

According to the sources, the talks would last from three to four days and would take a different approach from those held under the previous UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

The first round of peace talks was held in Geneva in 2015. The last attempt to negotiate an end to the conflict was hosted by Kuwait in 2016.

Mr Griffiths, who took up his post in March, launched a frantic round of shuttle diplomacy after the Arab Coalition and Yemeni government launched an offensive to retake the port city of Hodeidah in June. The coalition halted the campaign in early July to allow the UN envoy to negotiate a rebel withdrawal from the city and port, which is the main entry point for aid and food shipments to Yemen.

The coalition has insisted on a full rebel withdrawal from the city, while Mr Griffiths has said the Houthis have offered only to hand over the port to UN control.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government is reportedly preparing paperwork to seek prosecution of Houthi leaders for war crimes.

A justice ministry spokesman told Asharq Al Awsat that the list would include Houthi leader Abdel Malik Al Houthi and the rebels' military commander, Abd Al Khaliq Al Houthi.

“All-encompassing legal paperwork and documentation needed to pursue them at an international level are being prepared,” ministry spokesman Faisal Al Majidi to the newspaper.

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