Insurgents believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda have attacked the pipeline supplying Total’s Balhaf liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Yemen.

The pipeline was attacked in two places, according to a Reuters report, interrupting the supplies from the gas fields in Maarib, east of the capital Sanaa and stopping LNG exports from the plant.

Total brought forward scheduled maintenance work at the plant to mitigate the effects of the attack, and sent a team of engineers to repair the 322 kilometre pipeline. The company also evacuated about half of its staff to neighbouring Djibouti.

Local officials say the attack came in retaliation to an US air strike on Al-Qaeda hideouts near the town of Azzan in the southern Shabwa province. The strikes killed 24 people, including Al-Qaeda’s media operations chief for the Arabian peninsula.  

Total has a 40 per cent stake in the $4.5bn Balhaf plant, which delivers LNG to GDF Suez, Total and Kogas under long-term contracts.