Government, Houthis trade blame over latest fuel crisis in Sana'a
Long queues at petrol stations have been a common sight in Houthi-controlled Sana’a since Tuesday, when authorities announced the impending closure of dozens of the stations to implement a numbering system of the fuel terminals.
In a June 9 statement announcing the closures, the Houthi-run Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) accused the Saudi-led coalition of arbitrarily detaining 15 ships loaded with oil derivatives off the coast of the port of Jizan in Saudi Arabia preventing the ships from reaching the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah to unload their cargo.
“The fact that the dock in Hodeidah port has been empty of vessels for more than 11 days is a serious indication of the degree of escalation," the YPC said, noting that the "’arbitrary piracy’ will have a catastrophic impact on the measures to combat coronavirus because oil derivatives are necessary to cover the needs of the health, hygiene and water sectors."
The internationally recognized government’s Supreme Economic Council denied the Houthis' claims in a statement, accusing the Houthis of manufacturing the fuel crisis so they can sell imported fuel at a premium on unregulated black markets to finance war efforts.
The United Nations Verification and Inspections Mechanism (UNVIM), which monitors and inspects all cargo entering Yemen’s Red Sea ports, shows that as of June 9, oil tankers carrying nearly 536,000 metric tonnes of fuel were cleared and waiting to enter the anchorage area controlled by Houthis. Almasdar Online was unable to verify why those tankers, holding the equivalent of about three months of fuel for Houthi-controlled areas, had not yet entered Hodeidah port.
UNVIM data show that there has been a consistent backlog of ships carrying about 500,000 metric tonnes of fuel since late April.
The economic council accused the Houthis of “deliberately unloading fuel and food vessels at a slow pace, less than a quarter of the capacity of the port of Hodeidah, with the aim of accumulating ships in that area and exceeding the limits of safety and security, in order to put maritime security in the Red Sea in a state of permanent danger.”
The government and the Houthis regularly accuse each other of causing fuel crises in Houthi-held areas.
The government on Monday condemned the Houthis for withdrawing more than 35 billion Yemeni riyals (about $53.9 million*) from a special account in Yemen’s Central Bank branch in Hodeidah, which was allocated to pay the salaries of civil servants.
In mid-May, UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths informed the UN Security Council of Houthi intentions to withdraw those funds despite urging to the contrary. Griffiths said his office had repeatedly asked the Houthis for documents required to verify the account activity.
Edited by Casey Coombs