17 February 2014, Juba — South Sudan’s oil minister said on Sunday that if the current conflict continues it could undermine oil production and its export to international markets through the territory of neighbouring Sudan.
“The oil continues to flow normally in Upper Nile but there is a growing threat around the oil fields. There have been repeated attempts by the rebels to attack some areas in Adar and Paloch but they were repulsed”, Stephen Dhieu Dau, South Sudan’s minister of petroleum, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
However “the government is capable to provide protection to oil workers and operators”, he further added.
The minister’s comments follow threats from the rebels to close down oil production should government forces continue to carry out attacks on areas under the control of their forces in different parts of the country.
Some of South Sudan’s oil fields have been targeted in the fighting leading output dropping to 200,000 barrels per day down from 240,000 bpd. Despite production resuming last year after a 15 month shutdown when Juba and Khartoum could not agree on oil transit fees and other issues related to South Sudan’s separation from Sudan in July 2011.
At independence, South Sudan’s oil production was around 350,000 bpd, before Juba ordered the China National Petroleum Corp, India’s ONGC Videsh and Malaysia’s Petronas to halt production.
Work in some fields has been suspended due to lack of staff to run the facilities, with many foreign nationals evacuated and most South Sudanese having to flee for security reasons.
A ceasefire deal signed at end of January 23 failed to stop the fighting in Jonglei and the oil-producing states of Unity and Upper Nile.
“The government of Salva Kiir doesn’t want peace, nor does it care about the country as a whole”, Yien Mathew Chol, a senior rebel official told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
According to Chol, Kiir’s disregard for the well-being of the nation was illustrated by his decision to invite the Ugandan military, who have been accused of using cluster bombs, to help him fight the rebellion.
– Sudan Tribune