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June 11, 2013

Despite Threat, Sudan Has Not Blocked S. Sudan Oil: Official

by Simon Kasmiro

The head of an African Union-appointed body monitoring the oil dispute between the two Sudans said Tuesday that crude oil from South Sudan is still flowing through Sudanese pipelines to export ports, despite threats from Khartoum to block the oil over what it says is Juba's backing for rebel groups.

‘’As we speak, the oil is flowing to Port Sudan and there has not been any information or instruction to stop the flow of oil," said Emmanuel Egbogah, chairman of the Petroleum Monitoring Committee (PMC), which was set up under the terms of a series of economic and security agreements that were reached last September by Juba and Khartoum.

Sudan said on Sunday it would close export pipelines to South Sudanese crude within two months, accusing Juba of supporting rebels bent on toppling the regime in Khartoum, a charge the South Sudanese have repeatedly denied.

Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal which ended decades of civil war, controls most of the oil in the once-unified country but needs Sudan's pipelines to carry its crude to export ports in the north.

The two countries signed an agreement in March to resume oil shipments from the south through Sudan, which had been cut off since January 2012 amid another row, that time over oil transit fees.

During that long halt in oil production and shipping, South Sudan imposed strict austerity measures, but they were lifted when production resumed.

Egbogah said the PMC was confident that crude now in production would reach the international market by the end of the month, even as tensions soar between the two Sudans.

On Monday, Juba said 3,000 Sudanese troops had illegally crossed into South Sudan. Khartoum denied the accusation.

Representatives of the PMC traveled to Khartoum Tuesday to try to resolve the latest dispute between the two Sudans, which has seen Khartoum threaten not only to block crude exports from the south, which are the backbone of the new country's economy, but also to pull out of eight other security and economic agreements.