Now that it has been established beyond doubt that Jawf, (northern Yemeni province located directly south of Saudi Arabia is home to large reserves of both oil and gas, politicians have been keen to warn against Saudi greed in relation to Yemen’s riches. Officials in Safer, a Yemen government owned oil and gas company, said that the new discovery ensures a daily output of 6 million cubic square of gas.
Local Jawf officials have announced on Wednesday that exploration work in Jawf had begun at four pre-identified wells. Results are expected to come within days.
Though the latest confirmed discovery is not much, experts say the announcement opens the doors for more powerful gas and oil discoveries in the province.
Jawf erupted into the Yemeni oil and gas scene last year when few experts including Yemeni engineer Abdullah Abdulmalek exposed the facts about the Jawf oil and gas reserves using scientific and geological documents to prove their case.
Local Oil companies attempted to get government licensing to explore the oil and gas reserves, including Shaher Trading, a company owned by influential businessman Shaher Abdulhak Saleh, but with no success.
The Yemeni government would not openly comment and it feared backlashes from neighboring Suadi Arabia.
Political analysts Salem Farouk said that Yemen's hands were tied and that Saudi would not allow Yemen to discover for oil and gas near its borders.
The engineers claims were ignored and local journalists had good reasons to put Jawf aside. The province is home of the most notorious tribes in Yemen. Armed and lawless, the tribes control the province, and their influence was stronger than that of the government.
Last June, a reporter was willing to take the risk and had ears willing to listen. She was a women. AlJazeera reporter Safa Karman put cultural boundaries aside and traveled to Jawf to cover what others would not dare.
Karman was surrounded by tens of armed tribesmen during most of her mission. After days of investigating and meeting residents and experts, her story went viral on AlJazeera.
Her reporting broke the Jawf reporting barrier, causing uproar in the country, and giving people hope that Yemen, like all countries in the Gulf, had a fortune of oil and gas reserves.
Pressure by local organizations and politicians started to mount. The government was forced to listen to the demands of the people, sending experts to the area in search for reserves.
Back in April 2013, MP Abdul-Karim Jathban more or less associated Saudi Arabia border security interest with Yemen with Jawf’s vast natural resources. He noted in an interview with Alalam, “The news of a large oil reserve in Jawf region on the Saudi-Yemeni border is probably the main cause for the Al Saud regime to move to Yemeni borders. Although the news has been out for some while, the reason Saudi Arabia has now taken steps in this regard is that it is worried about the political developments in Yemen which have led to the formation of a national government which would protect the country’s resources and use them to serve the Yemeni people. This can turn Yemen into a powerful influential country and Saudi Arabia does not want this to happen.”
At a time when Yemen so heavily relies on international funding and donations to keep its economy afloat, Jawf discovery carries much promise, especially since Yemen’s other oil reserves are said to be dwindling.