The internationally recognized government of Yemen has flatly denied a statement by international oil company Zenith Netherlands regarding the acquisition of oil fields managed by OMV in Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa, saying that the company is ineligible to acquire oil assets in the country.
Yemen’s Oil Ministry said that it had not authorized the sale of OMV oil facilities in Yemen to the Dutch company, accusing both companies of releasing “misleading” information.
The Yemeni ministry said that for any purchase deal to be approved, the purchasing business must be multinational, well known, as well as financially and technically competent.
Zenith Netherlands does not meet the ministry’s financial and technical conditions for relinquishing OMV’s shares, it added.
“The Ministry of Oil and Minerals holds OMV and Zenith companies legally liable for disseminating such misleading information.”
Zenith Netherlands, part of Zenith Energy Ltd., announced on Tuesday that it would purchase energy infrastructure and oil fields in Yemen controlled by Austria’s OMV in a transaction valued at $21 million.
“Zenith is pleased to announce that Zenith Netherlands has entered into a SPA with OMV Exploration and Production to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding share capital of OMV Yemen Block S 2, OMV Jardan Block-3 and OMV Block 70 (collectively OMV Yemen),” the company said on Twitter.
Every two months, the Yemeni government sells about 2 million barrels of crude oil from oil fields in the southeastern province of Hadramout through the Al-Dhabbah terminal, and an additional 600,000 barrels from Shabwa’s oil fields shipped via terminals in the province.
In October, the Houthis began launching drone assaults against oil facilities in the two provinces in an effort to coerce the Yemeni government into sharing oil profits and paying public workers under the militia’s authority.
In Riyadh, meanwhile, the president of Yemen’s Leadership Council, Rashad Al- Alimi, voiced the council’s support for efforts, led by the UN and US envoys, to end the war in Yemen.
Al-Alimi called for increased international pressure on the Houthis to cease the militia’s attacks on oil facilities in southern Yemen.
He told US Yemen Envoy Tim Lenderking and US Ambassador to Yemen Steven Fagin that the council is dedicated to constructively participating with peace proposals to stop the war so long as they are founded on agreed-upon terms.
During a second meeting with UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg on Thursday in Riyadh, the Yemeni leader reiterated the same promises to support peace plans and called for an international approach to pressure the Houthis into de-escalation.
The meetings took place less than a day after the US Department of State announced the return of its envoy to Jordan and Saudi Arabia to press for peace efforts in Yemen and prolong the UN-brokered ceasefire, urging the Houthis to engage constructively with UN mediators.
“A durable ceasefire and an inclusive Yemeni-led political settlement are the only path forward to end the conflict and reverse Yemen’s dire humanitarian crisis,” the Department of State said in a statement.
“We urge the Houthis to cooperate with the UN and listen to Yemeni calls for justice, accountability and peace.”