News / Africa

Growing Sudan, South Sudan Oil Impasse Has High Stakes

Drilling tubing is piled next to the drilling site number 102 in the Unity oil field, South Sudan (2010 file photo).
Drilling tubing is piled next to the drilling site number 102 in the Unity oil field, South Sudan (2010 file photo).
Nico Colombant

African Union mediation to end an oil standoff between Sudan and South Sudan is expected to resume this week. Analysts say the stakes are high for the governments in Khartoum and Juba, both of which rely heavily on oil revenue to maintain themselves.

Jimmy Mulla, from the Washington-based Voices for Sudan advocacy group, is one of many analysts pessimistic about the current oil impasse. “I think as of now it is nearly impossible because the two parties are completely on different platforms," he said.

Disagreements on oil transfer fees and accusations by South Sudan that Sudan was stealing southern oil coming through its pipeline led to Juba’s recent decision to shut down oil production.

Mulla puts most of the blame on Sudan. “For the most part, I would still go back and say the government in Khartoum has not been forthcoming in terms of making sure this agreement goes forward. There are international standards, there are international agreements on oil revenues, whether it is a transit fee, all these things are in place, and these are references that have been tabled both by the government of South Sudan and also by the African Union mediating body, so it should have been easier to resolve but the lack of political will to address this issue has been a major problem," he said.

The exact terms of oil revenue sharing were not agreed to before South Sudan became independent last year, following decades of civil war.

A Washington-based international relations expert Walid Phares accuses Sudan of doing whatever it can to muddle the post-breakup phase. “Keep in mind that the northern regime did not really let go of South Sudan.  They want to try to control it.  They want to try to instigate trouble within the Southern Sudanese regions," he said.

Both countries accuse each other of backing cross-border rebellions, as the exact border and some regions remain in dispute. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir recently said his country was closer to war with South Sudan than peace.

After the breakup, Sudan started by asking $32 in transit fees for each barrel of South Sudanese oil shipped through its pipeline and then upped the request to $36. Those two figures are more than ten times standard rates.

Analysts say the government in Khartoum has been very nervous with the loss of oil revenue as it has also been struggling with a lack of foreign currency, high inflation, civil society discontent and $38 billion in external debt.

Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher at Smith College, believes Sudan’s government also wants to use the oil impasse as leverage to ease its debt. “Now, there have been discussions in the UK, in Germany and France that suggests it might be the case that these countries anyway are contemplating debt relief. I think that is a terrible signal to be sending Khartoum.  It only encourages them to be more intransigent, more ruthless in expropriating revenues from southern oil," he said.

Other analysts interviewed for this report said Asian countries which have been the main consumers of South Sudanese oil, especially the biggest buyer China, should try harder to help find a solution.

They warn South Sudan, which depends nearly entirely on oil revenues for state income, could easily become a failed state with escalating sectarian violence and angry unpaid soldiers if the oil shutdown persists.  

South Sudanese officials have talked about building an alternative pipeline to the Kenyan port of Lamu, but most analysts say this seems unrealistic at this point, because of cost and security issues.

The only hope they say would be for a major deal which addresses other current concerns such as ending the cross-border violence and finding long-term solutions for the remaining regions in dispute.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid