BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN —
Two oil fields in South Sudan's Unity state came back on stream Thursday, 21 months after they were shut down amid a row with Khartoum over pipeline fees.
South Sudan’s Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said the reopening of the El Tor and Toma South fields will not only lead to an increase in oil production in Unity state but also signalled a warming of relations with Khartoum.
“We believe that by entering a new production to the unity oil field production that will increase the current production from 25,000 barrels a day to around 30,000 and this is good news for the stakeholders that will contribute to our economy,” Dau said.
“The two countries have resolved the flow of oil and issues that were impeding the oil flow through the pipeline and facilities in the territory of South Sudan, and we want to build strategies for bilateral relations," he said.
Two more fields in Unity State are scheduled to come online in November and December, producing an additional 30,000 barrels per day.
Beny Ngor Chol, production manager for Greater Pioneer Operating Company, expressed the hope that the resumption of oil production would spur development in the area.
“We made a decision to shut down the oil because of some technical, political unrest between two nations, and now we are resuming. It means that we will get more money to the country. When we talk of more money it means there is a development, which will help education and other social welfare. So people are celebrating,” he said.
But he cautioned that poor roads and inclement weather will make it difficult in the short term for companies to access the wells.
"That means you will see our production is coming down... but soon, in the next couple of months, I believe our production will boom," he said.