Malaysia’s Petronas is evacuating all workers from two ventures in South Sudan after Thursday’s deadly attack on the Thar Jath oilfield.
The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered explorer said that all Malaysian employees were safe following the incident, but confirmed that an unknown number of South Sudanese workers had died.
“Petronas is saddened to learn a number of local South Sudanese oil field workers employed by two joint operating companies (JOCs) in South Sudan, in which Petronas has interests, have suffered fatalities and injuries,” it said.
Reports on Thursday suggested the violence at the Block 5A oilfield had claimed 11 lives.
Petronas is the majority owner of the White Nile Petroleum Operating Company that operates Block 5A along with India’s ONGC Videsh and domestic company Nile Petroleum.
The respective managements of the two JOCs have begun systematic evacuation of the remaining employees from the fields, Petronas said, while staff elsewhere in the country were observing the government-imposed curfew and taking all necessary precautions.
The Malaysian explorer did not identify the second JOC affected but reports by Agence France Presse suggested that at least five South Sudanese workers had been killed in another attack on their compound at the China National Petroleum Corporation-owned Unity oil field operated by Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company in which Petronas, ONGC Videsh and Nilepet are also partners.
“A group of armed men came to the compound and killed staff” late on Wednesday, a senior official at GNPOC told the wire service, not wanting to give his name as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
CNPC said on Friday it was evacuating 32 staff to the capital Juba amid the violence but denied its operations were affected.
“We are arranging the orderly evacuation of our workers, but the affected oilfield was not operated by CNPC,” said a CNPC media official, according to Reuters reports.
CNPC, Petronas and ONGC Videsh are the foreign explorers with the largest holdings in South Sudan, with Kuwait’s Kufpec, Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum and France’s Total also holding various interests.