03 June 2013, News Wires – French oil giant, Total, is wrapping up plans to joined up with ExxonMobil and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, Kufpec, to explore part of its long-dormant onshore portfolio in South Sudan.
The French explorer has not been active at its 120,000-square kilometre Block B concession in Jonglei state since 1985, owing to Sudan’s 22-year-long civil war.
It was speculated last September that the new government of South Sudan was preparing to divide up the block into three concessions and to bring in two new foreign players, namely ExxonMobil and Kufpec.
Henry Odwar, chairman of South Sudan’s parliamentary committee on energy and mining, said at the weekend that “now Total has gone ahead and, with a nudge from the (oil) ministry, engaged certain partners”.
“Exxon Mobil and Kufpec have been brought in to be a partner in Block B1,” he told Reuters.
Another industry insider told the wire service the deals were yet to be finalised but that Block B2 was likely to be held by the same partnership of companies. The government is yet to decide on the fate of B3, the source says.
Exxon declined to comment, while Total and Kufpec, Kuwait’s state oil exploration arm, could not be immediately reached.
In May, South Sudan restarted oil production in its main oil fields, ending a 16-month shutdown triggered by a dispute with Khartoum over pipeline fees.
South Sudan wants to start exploration in Block B1, B2 and B3 because of declining reserves in its main producing fields where state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s ONGC Videsh are active.
Enduring mistrust with between the two Sudans means the South is keen to build alternative pipelines through Kenya or through Ethiopia to Djibouti, but analysts say this would not be viable without new commercial oil discoveries.
Any exploration plans in the short term could be hampered by escalating fighting between the army and rebels led by David Yau Yau, the wire service added.