20 January 2014, — South Sudan’s defence minister said on Friday that his government could ask Sudan for military assistance, if the current conflict threatens the young nation’s oil fields, Reuters reported.
Following President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Juba on January 6, Sudan’s foreign minister claimed that a joint force of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and South Sudan’s army (SPLA) had been discussed, but this was strongly denied by Juba at the time.
“Until now we have not asked the Sudan government to send in their forces” to protect South Sudan’s oil fields, the minister said.
“Should there be a threat, anything threatening the oil field, definitely the government of South Sudan may ask the Sudan government to come in and support,” he added.
Many members of staff at the oil fields have been evacuated since the fighting began and production has slipped from 245,000 barrels per day down to 200,000 bpd, leading to Juba asking Khartoum for engineers to address the decline and ensure production continues.
When the South seceded from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war, it took with it 75% of production, but still relies on its northern neighbour to export its crude.
– Sudan Tribune