News / Africa

South Sudan Oil Still not Flowing

People pass by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in Juba, November 7, 2012.
People pass by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in Juba, November 7, 2012.
Hannah McNeish
South Sudan is blaming Sudan for preventing it from restarting oil production, which was  halted ten months ago in a dispute between the former civil war foes that nearly took them back to all-out war.

A September deal was supposed to see the southern oil start flowing north again, saving both economies which are in dire straits. But as South Sudan President Salva Kiir told crowds, the lifeline to both economies is still dangling.

Supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir at a rally in Melut County, Upper Nile state, November 20, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)Supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir at a rally in Melut County, Upper Nile state, November 20, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir at a rally in Melut County, Upper Nile state, November 20, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir at a rally in Melut County, Upper Nile state, November 20, 2012. (H. McNeish/VOA)
Crowds of people danced, sung and beat drums Tuesday at a rally to welcome South Sudan President Salva Kiir on his first visit to oil-producing Melut County, in Upper Nile state.

Kiir had hoped his visit to this border region would mark the resumption of oil production after a ten-month shutdown that has left South Sudan’s fledgling economy in ruins.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a deal in September to resolve a dispute over fees the South pays Khartoum to export its crude through pipelines, refineries, and a port in the north.

But Kiir said that Khartoum had now demanded that South Sudan first help resolve conflicts across the border in Blue Nile and in the Nuba Mountains.

"We were supposed to restart oil production on November 15, five days ago," he said.   But he added "Suddenly Khartoum people changed their minds, saying that we must denounce the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile first."

New tensions

Rebels in South Kordofan - home to the ethnic Nuba people - and Blue Nile fought alongside the South during a decades-long struggle against Khartoum.

But as South Sudan seceded in July, 2011, a new war erupted in the two states between rebels and Sudan's government, after promises that rebels would be integrated into the army and for popular consultations fell apart.

Khartoum has long accused South Sudan of supporting the insurgency - a charge the South has vehemently denied. But analysts say it is part of a “proxy war” to counter Sudan’s support of militias in Southern territory.

Kiir again denied that South Sudan had a role to play in stopping the conflict, instead asserting that Sudan was hiding behind this rationale in what appears to be another example of brinkmanship between the two countries.

He says the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile are only fighting in the north in their territory and Khartoum is looking for an excuse not to restart the oil.

US urges implementation of deals

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday urged the two sides to implement deals made in September on demilitarizing a largely undefined and oil-rich border and resuming production.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland urged the two sides - both of which have experienced rampant inflation, plummeting currencies and shortages of key goods - to resume production soon to ease the pressure on the ailing economies.

Upper Nile potential

Back at the rally, the only cause for celebration was President Kiir’s announcement that his trip was not entirely wasted.

He says he came to Upper Nile state for two reasons: First is to lay the foundation stone for and oil refinery and the second was to connect Upper Nile with old friend Ethiopia.

South Sudan hopes that a refinery in Upper Nile state could produce 10,000 barrels daily for domestic consumption.  Another refinery in its second oil-producing Unity state also aims at easing reliance on oil imports.

Meanwhile, an improved road to Ethiopia from Upper Nile’s oil fields has been discussed by ministers as a way to circumvent the pipeline through Sudan, by trucking oil all the way to the Red Sea port in Djibouti until a pipeline can be built on the same route or to Kenya’s new port in Lamu.

Kiir met with Kenya’s deputy prime minister last week to discuss the pipeline, which would cost billions and take years to build.

But until then, concerns over a continued shutdown remain high for two weakened Sudans.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs