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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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