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Saudi Arabia Looks to War Torn Yemen as a Venue for Another Export Oil Pipeline

Al Mahrah in Yemen (TUBS / CC BY-SA 3.0)

In a precautionary move designed to give Saudi Arabia more oil export options in the unlikely event that Iran closes down the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the government of Prince Salman in Saudi Arabia intends to build an alternative pipeline from its borders through the Yemeni district of Al Mahrah to the Arabian Sea.

Already Saudi forces have been deployed along the coastal strip of Al Mahrah as the country prepares to extend the oil pipeline from Al Kharkir to the Port of Nishtun in Al Mahrah.

Construction is complicated by Al Mahrah's geography, which is similar to the one of neighboring Dhofar in Oman. Rigid peaks rising to around 1,300 meters and the treacherous Empty Quarter desert lies to the north. Along its coast near the border with Oman, Al Mahrah is affected by the seasonal monsoon, or Khareef. Construction could also be challenged by local tribesmen, who are against a major pipeline traversing its territory.

According to the sources, Saudi Arabia has opened more than 20 sites on the coastal directorates of Al-Mahrah Governorate and prevented citizens from getting near them because they are military sites. However, Yemeni tribesmen and citizens have been in clashes with those forces and stopped some construction operations in those areas.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia is concerned about the threat of competition in the Arabian Sea from the UAE. Hence its wish to move quickly, however precarious.

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