14 January 2014, News Wires – Oil ministers of Sudan and South Sudan have met to discuss the impact of deadly fighting in the latter that has kept a significant amount of production shut in for weeks.
A US special enjoy is also said to have met with Riek Machar, the former vice president of South Sudan and leader of a loosely-assembled rebel group at odds with President Salva Kiir’s administration, according to the BBC.
Stephen Dhieu Dau, Petroleum Minister of major crude producer South Sudan, met with Sudanese counterpart Makawi Mohammed Awad in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum to discuss the ongoing security situation in the South and its impact on oil production, the UK broadcaster said on its website.
Reuters reported later on Monday that South Sudan has asked Sudan to send engineers to help maintain output at its oilfields. The country is reliant on Sudan’s pipeline and port infrastructure for its crude exports, while the latter is also reliant to a large degree on oil revenues from the South’s production.
“I talked to them so that they can quickly provide us with the technical support in terms of engineers that can be sent into Unity state working side by side with our engineers,” the news wire quoted Dau as saying.
The minister also said production is holding at between 190,000 and 200,000 barrels per day.
The Juba administration has shut in about one fifth of its production after rebel groups seized key towns in oil-producing states in South Sudan. However, late last week government forces seized back the key town of Bentiu in Unity state, while troops are said to preparing to retake Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.
US special enjoy Donald Booth has met with Machar at an undisclosed location in the South in an attempt to break the current impasse that has seen peace talks stall in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, the BBC also reported.
Machar’s side has demanded the release of some political prisoners in Juba, something to which Kiir’s administration has agreed. The United Nations’ Security Council has, however, urged Kiir to release them to move talks forward.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan’s capital Juba in mid-December after President Salva Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup – something the latter has denied.
Feuding quickly spread to other states, forcing the world’s newest nation to shut in about one fifth of its production.
South Sudan split from Sudan in July 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the original country’s oil reserves. Khartoum relies heavily on revenues from oil production in South Sudan, which must use its neighbour’s midstream and port infrastructure for exports.