Oil Production To Boost South Sudan’s Economy

By Julius Barigaba

After years of conflict-induced shutdown, South Sudan expects a windfall from resumed oil production to spur economic growth as it opens territory to new investors to explore more hydrocarbon deposits.

Government officials in Juba, and private sector players, hope the July 2018 peace pact between the warring factions will hold and build investor confidence to guarantee economic recovery and a better future for the world’s youngest nation.

Minister of Petroleum, Mr Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, told this newspaper that South Sudan is open to investment and shopping for new explorers for oil blocks B1 and B2. The country’s oil company, Nilepet, is seeking partners for joint ventures across the energy spectrum.

The world’s youngest nation is hosting an Oil and Power conference starting tomorrow, Mr Gatkuoth said they expect new firms to sign joint venture deals with companies already in sectors critical for economic growth.

These include oil technology, downstream petroleum activities and development of power infrastructure.

In the years before South Sudan erupted in a bloody war in December 2013, its oil production had seen growth, peaking at 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2011.

 oil
Production has slumped to the current 130,000 bpd against a 280,000 bpd national target.
 Greater Pioneer Operating Company also resumed oil production with an initial restarted capacity of 45,000 bpd after re-launch of activities at its Toma South well in August this year. Sudd Petroleum Company is resuming 80,000 bpd-capacity production.

Mr Gatkuoth said that the next fields to come on line will be El Nar, El Toor, Manga and Unity, while the government is also committed to uncapping Block 5A before end of this year.

However, the country has seen increased upstream activity, even though 70 per cent of South Sudan territory remains unexplored for oil.

“Exploration of oil is staging a remarkable comeback in South Sudan,” said N.J. Ayuk Ayuk, an energy and oil lawyer, also founder and Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Law Group.

Mr Ayuk, author of Big Barrels: Africa Oil and Gas and Its Quest to Prosperity, added that exploration work on the new fields is progressing well, and they expect finds of big oil deposits in South Sudan.

Uganda’s northern neighbour, however, remains a puzzle: has Africa’s third largest oil reserves, according to current discoveries, excluding pending exploration works in two-thirds of the country, yet South Sudan is not a preferred bride for world’s oil giants.

Source: allafrica.com

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