UPDATE 1-Yemen LNG says sabotage causes explosion at gas pipeline
(Adds detail on gas sector, previous attacks, links)
DUBAI Aug 21 (Reuters) - Yemen LNG said on Tuesday that an explosion caused by sabotage has hit a gas pipeline feeding the country's only liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011 that armed groups have exploited, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished country.
The explosion occurred at 0115 local time, about 170 km (105 miles) north of the Balhaf Liquefaction Plant on the Gulf of Aden run by France's Total, the company said in a statement.
The 320-km pipeline that supplies the $4.5-billion plant run by Total has been attacked several times by suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen after military strikes on Islamist militants.
The pipeline that transports gas from fields in the interior to the export facilities in Balhaf was attacked in late April, just days after reopening following a previous attack, in response to the killing of al Qaeda militants.
It resumed production on May 23 after its latest pipeline repair and Yemeni soldiers were deployed to try to protect the pipeline in June.
The Balhaf facility, which opened in 2009, has the capacity to supply up to 6.7 million tonnes and delivers LNG - gas cooled to liquid for export by ship - under long term contracts to GDF Suez, Total and Korea Gas Corp. (Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Additional reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Ed Davies)