SANAA, Yemen, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Yemen has narrowed down the qualified bidders who can take part in an auction for access to oil and natural gas reserves, the Yemen oil minister said.
The country was the recent focus of a region-wide terrorism alert issued by the U.S. State Department. Energy company Yemen LNG downplayed the security risk of operating in Yemen last week when it said reports of an al-Qaida attack on the Balhalf export terminal were unfounded.
Yemen Oil Minister Ahmed Dares said more than 40 international companies expressed interest in reserve areas in the country, the Yemen Post reported Sunday.
Dares said bringing foreign investments into the country would help stimulate the national economy and expand Yemen's access to the international market.
The U.S. Energy Department said energy production from Yemen has been in decline since 2001 because of a lack of new investments. It's production capacity is small compared to other oil- and gas-producing countries in the region, though it's strategically situated near one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.