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South Sudan Threatens Oil Production Shutdown

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South Sudan says it may shut down oil production because neighboring Sudan is seizing southern oil flowing through its pipelines.

South Sudan government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters Friday that the minister of petroleum and mining has begun a process to halt production within the next two weeks.

VOA has learned that South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will meet in Ethiopia's capital next week in an effort to resolve the dispute.

South Sudan Threatens Oil Production Shutdown
South Sudan Threatens Oil Production Shutdown

South Sudan took over 75 percent of Sudanese oil production when it split from the north in July, and now pumps about 350,000 barrels of oil per day. But the new country lacks the pipelines or port to send its oil abroad, so relies on facilities controlled by Khartoum.

Sudan's government began taking southern oil last month, after South Sudan balked at paying what it considers excessive fees to use the north's infrastructure.  

A southern minister last week accused the north of stealing more than 3 million barrels of oil in all. Khartoum has acknowledged taking some southern oil, saying it acted in lieu of payment.

China, which is a major buyer of Sudanese oil, has urged the two Sudans to resolve their differences through negotiations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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