Yet another mid-east country is in turmoil due to civil unrest. Yemen doesn’t play a huge role in the world as far as oil exports are concerned, but the tiny country is still important. Yemen does export oil, and they are located right next to Saudi Arabia, one of our major oil suppliers. The Saudis are not happy having protesters on their doorstep, and as it so happens, the Saudis are not happy with the U.S. right now for backing the protesters in Egypt. They’re so unhappy, in fact, that they dispatched a minister to China to peddle their precious oil to them. Ah, I think things are about to get ugly.
But back to Yemen. According to Yemin 24 News, there seem to be conflicting reports about whether or not oil is being exported at the moment. In a March 24, 2011, article by Alexis Flynn entitled, “Some Yemen Oil Exports Continue Amid Strife,” the first few paragraphs of the article seem to contradict the title. I quote:
“…However, the worsening political crisis, along with ongoing conflict in Libya and throughout the North Africa-Middle East region, looked increasingly certain to lend continued upward support to oil prices. Yemen accounts for a small percentage of oil, but the country’s strategic locale near Saudi Arabia has injected additional anxiety into markets.
There have been conflicting signs on the impact of the unrest on oil and gas operations.
Last week, Canadian producer Calvalley Petroleum Inc. said a pipeline that ships 50,000 to 70,000 barrels of oil a day from Yemen’s western oil fields to the port city of Ras Isa on the Red Sea has been shut down in a recent tribal attack. (Please recall that our Number One supplier of oil here in the U.S. is Canada.)
Austrian oil company OMV AG said it had shut all its production in Yemen. OMV’s normal Yemen production of 6,600 barrels of oil equivalent a day has been stopped since March 18, because of a rebel attack on the country’s main export oil pipeline.”
Yemen is a strong U.S. ally. They have provided intelligence and assisted us in the fight against the al-Qaida terrorists, several hundred of whom reside in Yemen. The current protests against the government of Yemen are thought to be related to those terrorists and those sympathetic to their cause, which, of course, is to attack the United States.
So there’s the rock and the hard place. If we don’t assist the “revolutionaries,” the U.S. risks further infuriating the pro-democracy crowd in the Middle East, but if we do assist in the overthrow of a regime that is friendly to our national security interests, we might be furthering the cause of al-Qaida. For further reading on this most interesting topic, see Dina Temple-Raston’s post of April 6, 2011, entitled, “Trouble in Yemen Could Give Al-Qaida New Opening,” in Yemen 24 News.
It will be interesting to see where oil trades today. $110 a barrel, anyone?