Sudans reach partial pact in oil dispute

by on September 27, 2012 9:38 am BST

However, President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan failed to agree on a mechanism to resolve disputes over contested areas, particularly the oil-rich Abyei region that is claimed by both sides, Sudanese government spokesman Rabie Abdelaty told Dow Jones Newswires.

“The agreement on oil will be signed on Thursday. Talks over unresolved issues will continue in the meantime,” Abdelaty said.

A South Sudanese spokesman confirmed that an agreement had been reached on oil exports and a demilitarised zone, after four days of talks between the two leaders in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa aimed at resolving an ongoing feud over crude transit fees, oil facilities and territorial rights that have pushed the countries to the brink of war.

The deal on how much South Sudan will pay to use Sudanese infrastructure for oil exports marks a breakthrough for the former civil war foes.

South Sudan, which produced around 350,000 barrels a day of oil, in January halted shipments to Sudan, claiming that Sudan was stealing its oil. Landlocked South Sudan must depend on Sudan’s infrastructure to ship its oil.

South Sudanese officials said it may take at least three months to resume shipments.

Both nations’ economies have suffered badly because of the halt of oil shipments, which provided crucial foreign exchange revenue.

The United Nations set a 22 September deadline for the two sides to end hostilities or face sanctions. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the chief African Union mediator, is expected to brief the UN Security Council on the developments on Thursday.

South Sudan gained formal independence from Sudan in July last year after a two-decade civil war. South Sudan retained at least 75% of the former nation’s oilfields but it has to rely on pipelines and ports in the north to ship its crude.

Both sides have agreed to a referendum in Abyei in which Abyei residents would decide whether to be a part of the north or south.

However, the Sudanese government insists that a large number of nomadic Arab cattle herders from the Misseriya tribe be allowed to participate.

The Misseriya are traditional allies of the Khartoum government and South Sudan fears that their participation would result in the north obtaining control of the coveted region.