News / Africa

Oil Deal Could Rescue Sudans' Economies

Hannah McNeishGabe Joselow
South Sudan has resumed pumping oil following a 15-month shutdown that was among the country’s many remaining disputes with Khartoum. Hannah McNeish, reporting from the Tar Jath Oilfield in South Sudan's Unity State, talked to VOA's Gabe Joselow in Nairobi about this new development.

Joselow: Hannah, we understand that oil production has begun again in Unity State after being shut down in a pricing dispute with Sudan.  What’s the significance of this for both countries? 

McNeish: This is huge news. South Sudan relies on oil for 98 percent of its government budget. It took the decision to shut down oil six months after it gained independence in January 2012 and since then the economy really has been reeling. It’s also had disastrous impact on its neighbor Sudan - its former civil war foe as well - which used to earn huge revenues from oil being transported north. And this today really is the first time we’ve seen any movement. It may be only 8,000 barrels of oil [from one well in this oilfield], out of 350,000 that will now flow [per day], but it’s the first step in really rescuing both economies and finding peace between two neighborhoods.

Joselow: Oil was clearly one of the biggest outstanding disputes between Sudan and South Sudan. Does this development do anything to help the two countries resolve their remaining disputes?

McNeish: The two countries have agreed to demarcate the border, to pull their troops back to avoid any more conflict and to try to agree on contested territory, so really the oil is the big deal. It has such a big impact on both economies, and when it was turned off it was so much easier for tensions to flare. So now that it’s been turned on, people are hoping the rest will follow.

Joselow: When can we expect oil production to come back to pre-shutdown levels? 

McNeish: On Thursday [April 4] in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, the undersecretary from the ministry of petroleum from Khartoum and the undersecretary from the ministry of petroleum in South Sudan both said that they actually expect to have all the oil back on by the end of May. This really does depend on the technical feasibility because the oil has been shut down for so long, and people don’t  know what state the pipeline is in. But so far they’re hoping to start with this 8,000 barrels of oil from Unity State and, hopefully, ramp that up to about 30,000 [barrels per day] in coming weeks.

Joselow: What’s the impact of this on the ground for the South Sudanese people? And is there a worry of continued corruption around the industry?

McNeish: Previously there has been rampant corruption and there have been many calls for more transparency in where this money goes. There was a scandal last year where the president signed a letter calling for $4 billion of stolen public money to come back, but the oil shutdown really did have huge impacts on the country in terms of inflation, the new currency, the south Sudanese pound, plummeting against the dollar. There were shortages of fuel. There were shortages of food and medicines. So there is a hope that with this oil resumption that it’s a chance to turn a fresh page and start really investing in South Sudan, to do away with the corruption so people can really see what they fought for and what their new nation can bring them.

Hannah McNeish reported for VOA from Unity State South Sudan. She spoke with VOA's East Africa correspondent, Gabe Joselow. 

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More