NAIROBI— South Sudan plans to auction licenses for a yet-to-be determined number of new petroleum exploration blocks once it has finished mapping them, a senior energy ministry official said on Tuesday.
South Sudan produces about 190,000 barrels per day (bpd), its Petroleum and Mining Ministry said in October, revising down a figure of 240,000 bpd it gave in September.
Africa's newest country has made more than $1.3 billion in oil sales since it restarted production in April this year after a row with Sudan led to a shut down in January.
South Sudan at present has 10 exploration blocks.
“We are now working on a concession map, and this will lead us to the initiation of the licensing for the new annexed blocks, and we are hoping that by the end of this year that we will have a licensing round,” Mohamed Lino Benjamin, director general of petroleum at the petroleum and mining ministry, told a regional east African oil and gas conference.
Exploration license auctions are not always awarded to the highest bidder, as other factors such as technical expertise are taken into account.
South Sudan has previously said it intends to break up the vast Block B, which has been controlled by France's Total since 1980. Total suspended exploration in the block, located in Jonglei state, in 1985 because of escalating insecurity during the civil war with Sudan.
The neighbors fought one of Africa's longest civil wars, which ended in 2005, ahead of full independence for South Sudan in mid-2011.
At a regional summit in Kigali on Monday, South Sudan said it was keen to discuss a plan that would also include Uganda and Kenya to build a pipeline from the countries' respective oilfields to a new port being developed on Kenya's northern coast, enabling crude exports and boosting its oil industry.
The pipeline to Kenya's Lamu port, where work on berths is starting, would also provide a route to export crude oil from South Sudan, which now relies on a pipeline through its northern neighbor Sudan. The new route would avoid the rows between the two that have disrupted flows.
The $25.5 billion Lamu project would link landlocked South Sudan and Ethiopia to the Indian Ocean port of Lamu by constructing a major highway, a railway and an oil pipeline.