By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 19, 2012- Yemen's Interior Ministry said on its website that it had received unconfirmed reports of a plot by al-Qaeda suicide bombers to attack gas facilities in Belhaf in the southern Shabwa province and security forces were on the alert.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged since last year's anti-government protests created a power vacuum in parts of the country. Yemen's government has regularly reported al Qaeda plots to launch further attacks, but it has not been possible to confirm the reports independently.
Meanwhile, Yemen LNG said on Thursday that a total of six cargoes had to be cancelled as the Balhaf terminal is still shut down due to a sabotage attack on the LNG pipeline on March 30.
Earlier, the company expected the loss to be only four cargoes but in a new statement the company said six LNG cargoes were cancelled due to the sabotage and it will increase production to compensate for the cancelled cargoes.
“We will increase LNG production to redeliver as much of the cancelled cargoes as possible before year end.” said Francois Rafin, the General Manager of the Company.
“We are confident in the prompt reinforcement of the surveillance and protection of the pipeline; the mobilization of a new security deployment is already in progress.”
The statement said the completion of the annual plant shutdown at Balhaf will be on 20th April, 9 days ahead of the original schedule.
The shutdown was advanced in response to a sabotage of the gas pipeline on 30th of March, it added.
The 38-inch pipeline carries natural gas from the block 18 in Marib to the Balhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden.
France's Total gas pipeline to Balhaf was last blown up on March 30, hours after a U.S. drone attack killed at least five militants.
On the other hand, Yemen's Interior Ministry said that it had tightened security measures around Saudi Embassy in Sana'a and its consulate in Aden to protect the embassy and its staff from possible attacks by al-Qaeda militants.
According to the ministry this move came after an al- Qaeda-linked militant claimed responsibility for last month's kidnapping of a senior Saudi diplomat in Yemen's southern sea port of Aden
Yemen's new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office in February vowing to fight al-Qaeda, is also facing challenges from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north and secessionists in the south.