By Deng Machol
Juba – Russia’s Zarubezhneft has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Sudan to explore four oil blocks, South Sudan’s petroleum minister said last week.
Minister Ezekiel Lul said the country’s oil production had risen to 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 130,000 bpd in August.
He said South Sudan wanted to push production back up to 350,000 bpd, the level achieved in 2011 when the country secured independence from Khartoum regime and before the country glided into another civil conflict.
President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar recently signed the revitalized peace deal in September, in attempt to end a conflict and return the country into stability and economic development path.
However, the arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom was awaiting more information on the blocks from the Petroleum Ministry before starting exploration.
Though, the Russian company reported denies a deal reached with South Sudan, but Juba said it was because of geo-politics, and a deal is real.
However, other foreign firms active in South Sudan’s oil industry include China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh).