Story highlights

The pipeline attack halted oil production, and crews worked to fix it

Yemen crude oil exports are the mainstay of the impoverished country's economy

The government fears militants may try vandalize pipelines to cause economic instability

Experts fear a weakened economy could lead to more political turmoil

(CNN) —  

Militants blew up a major oil pipeline in Yemen on Saturday, three senior government officials said.

The attack halted oil production, and crews worked to fix the line, which links the Masila oilfield to port the port town of Shihr.

The militants planted explosive devices under the pipe in the Urf Valley of the southern Hadramout province.

Yemen crude oil exports are the mainstay of the impoverished country’s economy, and halts in production pose a serious threat to stability.

The vandalized pipeline transports more than 100,000 barrels per day.

Yemen oil infrastructures have increasingly been the targets of attacks over the last year.

“Lost oil production due to pipeline attacks cost the government more than $1 billion in 2012, and cost the government even more in 2013,” an Oil Ministry official told CNN on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to media.

The Yemeni Prime Minister’s office said that the government has for months carefully guarded its pipelines, fearing that terror or tribal groups could attempt to damage country’s economy by vandalizing them.

Security experts have warned that the government’s inability to preserve state infrastructures may lead to a vote of no confidence and potentially to political instability.

“The more attacks on oil pipelines, the less of a chance Yemen has to recover from its economic woes,” said AbdulSalam Mohammed, President of the Sanaa based Abaad Research Center. “This is something Yemen cannot possibly afford given the size of its state deficit.”