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Oil refinery in Yemen stops operation; lack of raw materials cited

By Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 5:18 PM EST, Sun November 20, 2011
A security guard keeps watch outside an oil refinery last year in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden
A security guard keeps watch outside an oil refinery last year in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Aden refinery had already cut production from 150,000 barrels a day to 40,000
  • The closure follows an attack on one of the country's major pipelines
  • Opposition suspects embattled President Saleh is manufacturing a crisis

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- An oil refinery in Yemen has stopped operation due to lack of raw materials, according to officials at the refinery.

Senior officials at the Aden Oil refinery in Aden told CNN on Sunday that the last day of production was Thursday, following an attack in Marib province on one of the country's main oil pipelines.

The attack on a pipeline was the fifth in less than three months.

The official warned that the refinery's stopping production would lead to a fuel shortage, which could plunge the country into yet another "dry" spell, putting additional pressure onto the already-battered economy.

Management already dropped its production from 150,000 barrels per day to 40,000 per day.

A major fuel crisis in Yemen would likely push more people into poverty and would threaten to create a major humanitarian crisis.

Opposition parties in the country said that the government is creating problems in the country to give President Ali Abdullah Saleh more time in power and raise fears among the international community that if Saleh leaves, the country will collapse.

"Where is the profit the government is making from selling the oil? Why are we forced to suffer and cannot even get the basic essentials of life," said Ahmed Bahri, the head of the political circle in the opposition Haq party.

He added, "Yemen's wealth is in the hands of corrupt officials and that is why the Yemen revolution is taking place. Yemenis deserve better than this."

Residents fear that the crisis would lead to another catastrophe where Yemenis would not be able to get petroleum products.

In July, gas stations around the country stopped selling to the public, forcing people to buy from the black market. Prices for petrol in the black market exceeded its normal rate by 300%.

"We can only bear so much. We have been suffering ... almost a year and no one cares. We are human and the economic situation is now unbearable for more than 25 million in Yemen," said Salem al-Haidari, a Yemeni who lost his job seven months ago and is living on loans.

"If the fuel crisis is not solved by politicians, we will revolt against everyone," added al-Haidari.

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