South Sudan resumes pumping crude from oil field suspended since 2013

By Deng Machol *

President Salva Kiir with Petroleum Minister Luo Ezekial

Juba – South Sudan has resumed pumping 20,000 bpd of the country’s crude oil via Sudan from the Toma South oil field in former Unity State of Upper Niles Region, where production had been suspended in the aftermath of 2013 fighting on Sunday.

A lot of the country’s oil infrastructure was destroyed during the war. Of recent peace deal between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar signed in Khartoum, Sudan has raised hopes of a return to full scale production.

South Sudan’s oil output currently stands at 130,000 bpd and is expected to reach 210,000 bpd by year-end, according to the officials. South Sudan’s oil is shipped to international markets via a pipeline through Sudan.

The ground-breaking ceremony of the oil tap was witnessed by delegations from South Sudan and Sudan.

In a joined press conference, South Sudan petroleum minister Ambassador Lul said the Toma South will be producing 25,000 barrels per day.

“We have now resumed the production officially in Toma South, we will be producing 25,000 barrels a day and we will be sending it to Heglig,” he said.

He said that the central processing facility is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“My team in the Ministry of Petroleum of the Republic of South Sudan, GNPOC will be here in Toma South working 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to make sure that the production is not interrupted,” Minister Lul said.

On the same event, Sudanese Petroleum and Gas Minsiter, Azhari Abdel-Gadir describes the launch as a great achievement, in abide to boost and strength the two countries’ economy.

“This is a great achievement. In my opinion, it is really a small step in the process of regaining all the lost production from the fields of South Sudan since 2013,” Abdel-Gadir said. He added production at five previously suspended oil fields was expected to reach 80,000 bpd after maintenance work is completed by year-end.

The observers believed that oil production in South Sudan could return to its normal average of 375,000 bpd in three years, saying the newborn nation currently produces 130,000 bpd.

Last July, Khartoum and Juba agreed to repair the damaged oil wells and to resume oil production in several oil fields stopped and revive production since several years due to the nearly -five-year armed conflict in the country.

Landlocked South Sudan’s oil, which Sudan exports via a pipeline through the red sea and is crucial to both nations’ economies, South Sudan heavily relies on oil income to fund up to 98% of its budget. Juba government is facing shortage of hard currency since its oil production suspended in 2013.

In return, the transit and processing fees South Sudan pays to Sudan to transport its crude oil constitute an important revenue stream for Sudan.

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation after declaring independence from Sudan in 2011, but a country’s plunged into civil war killing tens of thousands of people and 2.5 million people displaced from their homes.

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