19 July 2013

Sudan: South Sudan Reduces Oil Output Amid Shutdown Fears

Juba — South Sudan on Friday announced that it had reduced its oil output to avoid any effect an abrupt shutdown would have on the environment should Khartoum decide to halt the young nation's oil export.

The oil matter, an official told reporters in the capital, Juba was one of the main issues members of the country's cabinet deliberated on at its Friday meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir.

On Tuesday, Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) called upon South Sudanese authorities to expedite the implementation of the cooperation agreement between the two countries before it halts the flow of the southern oil through its territory.

"Yes, I just briefed the cabinet about my recent visit to china and about [the] current measures we are taking as the ministry together with our partners and other relevant institutions," said petroleum minister, Stephen Dhiew Dau.

We have started reducing the production rate in preparation for threats and warnings issued by the Sudanese government, he added.

A reduction could see the country's oil production drop to just 100,000 barrel per day, from the 200,000 it used to produce when it resume production in April following last year's shut down.

South Sudan, before last year's oil shutdown, used to pump nearly 300,000 barrels per day of its oil, which it transports through Port Sudan in the Red Sea.

The minister further said the smooth stoppage of the oil production would have a control effect on the environmental dangers spilled oil would have on surrounding areas.

"As you know, more than 90% of our people live in the rural areas [and] depend on the natural environment for their livelihood", Dau said shortly after the cabinet meeting.

According to the petroleum minister, pollution resulting from inadequate preparations and abrupt oil stoppage, could destroy vital resource on which local population in the rural areas depend.

"We are much concerned about environmental damage which the abrupt stoppage of the production would cause; because it would result to pollution, which kills fish," the minister stressed.

In numerous cases, these long term effects undermine source of livelihood. This is why we are concerned, he added.

In September 2012, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of agreements labelled Cooperation Agreement, which covered several outstanding issues including oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.

Also, both countries in March signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements.

Last month, however, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir ordered the closure of all pipelines carrying oil from South Sudan within 60-day period from 9 June, alleging Juba habours and supports rebel groups fighting the Sudanese army in Blue Nile South Kordofan and Darfur.

Juba has repeatedly denied these allegations and instead blames the Khartoum regime for allegedly backing several militia groups fighting the southern regime.

EDUCATION AND POWER ISSUES

Meanwhile, two other ministers, David Deng Athorbei (electricity and dams) and Peter Adwok Nyaba (higher education and scientific research), also made presentations at the cabinet meeting.

The electricity minister reportedly informed cabinet of the need to explore all avenues so that the country can find alternative sources of energy to steer development.

Landlocked South Sudan still relies in fueled-powered generators to run it day-to-day activities, which in has in the long-run become too costly to effectively maintain.

On his part, however, the higher education minister is said to have informed the council of ministers on the fate of South Sudanese students in the aftermath of the recent strike that rocked the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Atem Yak Atem, the deputy information minister told reporters that cabinet lauded the education minister for amicably handling the situation before it escalated.

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