South Sudan plans to resume oil exports this week, nearly a
year after they were halted by the dispute with neighbour Sudan that has
deprived both states of badly needed revenue and brought them close to another
Juba’s information minister Barnaba Benjamin said that major
oil fields in the Unity and Upper Nile states are ready to start pumping around
200,000 barrels of oil a day before the end of this week, ahead of the schedule
set earlier this month.
“Oil shipments will resume within the next few
days,” Benjamin said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
“Our facilities are ready and we are in touch with our
counterparts in Sudan…They are also ready.”
The Sudanese government could not immediately be reached for
comment, the wire service said.
In Ethiopia in late September, South Sudan and Sudan forged a pact
allowing exports to resume after they were shut down in January in a dispute
over how much it should pay Sudan to export oil through the northern
neighbour’s pipelines to the Sudanese Red Sea terminal, Port Sudan.
South Sudan retained 75% of the pair’s oil fields when it
became an independent state in July last year, but has to rely on pipelines and
ports in its northern neighbour to reach world markets.
Many of the wider political issues in the dispute that took
the two states close to an all-out war, such as the disputed territory that
lies between them, remain unresolved in the wake of the interim agreement.
Earlier this month, the two countries delayed plans to
create a demilitarized zone along their common border, raising fears of a
breakdown of their fragile peace accord.
Security talks between defence officials from the two
countries are expected to resume later this month in Khartoum, Benjamin said.
Among the major sticking points include the status of the
flashpoint oil-rich region of Abyei as well as the presence of rebels that
sided with South Sudan during its two-decade civil war with Khartoum.
Sudan insists that South Sudan continues to back the rebels,
although Juba has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Until January, South Sudan shipped as much as 350,000
barrels a day of crude, with exports accounting for up to 98% of its foreign
South Sudan will keep ramping oil pumping and reach
pre-closure levels within a few weeks, according to Benjamin.
The extra supply of around 200,000 barrels-a-day of oil
amounts to around 0.2% of expected world oil consumption in the fourth quarter,
according to forecasts from the International Energy Agency.
The biggest foreign operator in South Sudan, Dar Petroleum, is
run by Asian state players Sinopec, China National Petroleum Corporation
(CNPC) and Petronas.
Its blocks 3 and 7 in Upper Nile state used to pump between
230,000 and 250,000, or the majority of the country’s 350,000-barrel pre-crisis
Dar Petroleum said in September it expected an initial
output of 180,000 barrels per day within three months.