Historical Rundown of Oil Exploration in Yemen
Yemen is a major part of the Arabian Peninsula and one of the major geological components of the Arab Shield. Geological researches and studies on the Arabian Peninsula have shown that the Peninsula is mostly composed of rocks with special characteristics, constituents and appropriate geological ages capable of holding, maintaining and generating crude oil. In Yemen, a clear and sound testimony is the consequent oil explorations of the 1980s and 1990s. More importantly, these explorations are still ongoing in Ma’reb basin, Shabwah, Massila and in the remaining promising sedimentary basins, which total to 13 scattered over a large area of the country
Accordingly, it is possible to divide oil and gas exploration activities into three stages as follow
The beginning of the search and exploration for oil in Yemen goes back to the 1938 when an Iraqi oil company, namely, Iraq Petrol Company carried out a number of geological and geophysical operations. Other similarly interval activities and operations were carried out in Hadhramout and Al-Mahrah governorates in the 1950s and 60
In 1952 through 1954, a southern German company, namely PraklaWedliman, executed some exploration activities in Tihama( Al-Salif area and the Red Sea), but in vain.
Second Stage ( 1981-1991)
In 1989, Yemen Investment Company for Oil and Minerals (YICOM) was established as a result of reaching a PSA with Hunt, Exxon, Total, Kovepec, and two other Russian companies. having a share of 20%, YICOM joined the consortium of companies to carry out exploration operations of Jannah Block (5), which resulted in the discovery of oil in Hilayouh and Al-Nasser blocks
Third Stage ( 1990-2007)
The Unification of Yemen in May 22, 1990, played a very significant role in enhancing and developing oil exploration activities. A large number of international oil companies were encouraged to invest in various Yemeni areas due to the suitable investment atmosphere and the presence of stability and security and integration of potentials. In addition, the whole republic of Yemen was divided into blocks open for exploration activities leading to the following outcomes
In 1991, production started in block (4), south of Iyad following the construction of its superficial plants and the pipeline from the blocks to Balahaf terminal on the Arab Sea. In 1991,significant oil discoveries were made on Sona field Masilah block (, block 14,) by Canadian Occidental Petroleum (now Canadian Nexen Petroleum). Such discoveries were followed by more findings. Then, the block was developed by building its plants and construction of the oil pipeline to Al-Thabah area, Hadhramout governorate, on the Arab Sea
In September 1996, oil was discovered in Halayouh field Janah block 5. (It was discovered by a consortium of companies operating in the block). Then plants were built and the produced oil was carried by the pipeline of Hunt Yemen Company, the (former) operator of block 18, Ma’reb /Al-Jawaf. Hunt pipeline delivered oil the port on the Red Sea.
In 1998, Total Yemen (Total Vienna Alf) made a number of oil discoveries in the following fields: Khareer, Atouf, and WadiTaryah, (East Shabwah block 10). Production was linked with Al-Masilah block 14
On December 18 1999, DNO, a Norwegian company and operator of Hawreeh block 32, announced the discovery of oil. It started production and exporting oil through Al-Masilah pipeline in November 2001
In addition, oil discovery in block S1 was announced to have been done and production would possibly start in the second half of 2006
Oil Terminals and Blocks
There are three major oil pipelines to carry crude oil from oil production fields to terminals and ports on the Red Sea and the Arab Sea. Thus, there are three major terminals/ports from which oil is transshipped to international oil markets. These are as follows
Located at Al-Hudaidah, on the Red Sea, it is a floating (tank) terminal capable of loading tankers with large quantities of oil for exporting purpose. Crude oil is transported to this terminal from Block (18), Ma’reb/Al-Jawaf and from Jannah Block (5) and other neighboring fields. The oil is transported over a distance of (439) kilometers, 9 kilometers of which is in the sea to be connected to SAFER ship on the Red Sea. The terminals storage capacity is 3 million barrels. Having a radius of (24-26) inches and being the first terminal to be constructed, oil was first transported to the terminal in 1985/1986
Al-Shihr Terminal ( Al-Thabah)
Located in Hadhramout governorate on the Arab Sea and constructed in 1993, this terminal is capable of loading tankers with large quantities of oil for exporting purpose. Crude oil is carried to the terminal from Block (14), Al-Masila; Block (10), east Shabwah; Block (32) Hawareem; and other neighboring blocks (53 and 51). The oil is transported through a pipeline of 24-36 inch radius over a distance of (138) kilometers. There are five giant storage tanks. Four of which have a storage capacity of 5 thousand barrels each while the fifth, being the largest, has a capacity of one million barrels.