News / Africa

S. Sudan Oil State Capital Divided, Crude Output Down

FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers guard the airport in Malakal, Jan. 21, 2014. FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers guard the airport in Malakal, Jan. 21, 2014.
x
FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers guard the airport in Malakal, Jan. 21, 2014.
FILE - Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers guard the airport in Malakal, Jan. 21, 2014.
Reuters
The capital of South Sudan's main oil-producing region was divided between the army and rebels on Thursday after the worst fighting since a January cease-fire stoked jitters in global oil markets.

The Juba government said it remained committed to peace talks but that it had to react after rebels allied to former Vice President Riek Machar on Tuesday attacked Malakal, which lies on the edge of Upper Nile state's oil fields.

A Petroleum Ministry official told Reuters oil production had fallen to about 170,000 barrels per day even before the rebel strike on Malakal, a fall of around a third.

“The reduction has nothing to do with the fighting but more [to do with] technical issues,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We have had to rely on river transport for technical equipment for the last two months and you cannot guarantee safety on that channel,” he said.

Even so, the attack on Malakal raises concerns over the security of South Sudan's northern oil wells - an economic lifeline for Juba and neighboring Sudan, which earns vital hard currency from fees received for use of its oil pipeline.

International pressure is mounting on the warring factions to return to negotiations, although Western diplomats say in private that mutual recriminations over cease-fire violations raise questions about each side's commitment to talks.

“Malakal is not yet fully calm... There are pockets of resistance within the town. It is split between the two sides,” South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei told Reuters in Ethiopia, where East African states are trying to broker a second round of peace talks.

Upper Nile is the only state pumping oil after production in neighboring Unity state was halted earlier in the conflict, a suspension which had already forced the government to cut output by about a fifth to around 200,000 bpd.

“Spoiled child"

The petroleum official told Reuters 167,367 barrels were pumped on Monday and 168,403 on Tuesday, the day rebels struck Malakal. Those levels could fall further if fighting extends into Upper Nile's oil fields, oil industry observers warn.

Malakal, a dusty market town on the banks of the White Nile, lies about 140 km (90 miles) from an oil complex where a key crude processing facility is situated.

Global oil prices have been supported in the past two days in part because of the conflict in South Sudan.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 800,000 have fled their homes since fighting began two months ago, triggered by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Machar, his former deputy whom he sacked in July.

Minister Makuei told Reuters the government still sought a peaceful resolution to the crisis and would “continue talking despite the aggressive and intolerable [cease-fire] violations.”

Diplomats say the latest violence has cast doubts over the peace talks which have already been delayed by rebel demands for the release of four remaining political detainees and the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the country.

The Juba government says it is frustrated that the international community has not been harder in its criticism of the rebels following the assault on Malakal.

“How long will these rebels continue to act as the spoilt child of the international community?” presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.

The United States said on Wednesday it was deeply concerned by the fighting in and around Malakal, which it called a blatant violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.

The government has accused the rebels of receiving support from outside, but has not publicly identified the source it believes has assisted the rebel forces. A rebel spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the allegation.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid