As the Yemen civil war carries on, Yemen’s oil reserves are becoming a specific point of tension between Yemen’s ousted Sunni leaders and their Saudi backers, and the Shi’ite Houthis and their Iranian backers.
In 2014, Christophe de Margerie, the CEO of Total at the time, visited Sana’a to meet with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi and discuss expanding the company’s footprint in the host country. Saudi Arabia has set up an oil base in collaboration with the French Total company in the Southern parts of Kharkhir region near the Saudi border province of Najran and is exploiting oil from the wells in the region, the country’s authorities informed this week, adding that sixty-three percent of Yemen’s crude production is being stolen by Saudi Arabia in cooperation with Mansour Hadi, the fugitive Yemeni president
In January, the Saudi-led coalition that backs Hadi’s claim to the presidency clashed with a group of Houthi rebels in the Bab el-Mandab region – a vital passage for around 3.8 million barrels of Middle Eastern crude to overseas markets.
Control of the passage is important for both sides. The Sunni coalition cannot allow the Houthis to take it over because according to Emirati news outlet The National, they could use it to blackmail their enemies, paralyzing oil trade via the passage.