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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid