Yemen separatists urges oil firms to stop exports from south

ADEN Yemen (Reuters) - Southern separatists seeking to split from Yemen's north set an ultimatum for the government to evacuate its soldiers and civil servants before Nov. 30 and asked all foreign firms producing oil and gas in the region to halt exports immediately. Southern Herak, the main group demanding the restoration of a South Yemen state that merged with North Yemen in 1990, made its demands in a statement after it staged mass rallies in the southern cities of Aden and Mukalla on Tuesday. "The state of the south is coming and no power can stop us from achieving this," the statement said. The movement asked all companies operating in oil and gas to halt exports until technicians appointed by the southern movement oversee the process and revenues are placed in banks under the name of a new southern state. "The future relationship between the southern state and these companies will be determined by how committed they are to this," the statement said. Yemen is a small producer with proven oil reserves of around 3 billion barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which estimated Yemen's crude oil production at about 100,000 barrels per day in March 2014. Most of Yemen's production is from the Marib-Jawf area in the north, with the rest coming from the Masila area in the southeast. Yemen's al-Dabbah oil export terminal is located in Hadramout, south Yemen's biggest oil and gas district, and the country's Balhaf gas export terminal is located in southern Shabwa province. The Balhaf facility, heavily guarded by Yemeni troops, is run by France's Total and ships liquefied natural gas (LNG) primarily to Asia and some European countries. Total, the biggest foreign investor in Yemen, could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf; Writing by Maha El Dahan, editing by Rania El Gamal, William Maclean and Dominic Evans)