South Sudan's petroleum minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth

South Sudan resumes pumping crude oil from Unity fields

By Deng Machol

South Sudan's petroleum minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth
South Sudan’s petroleum minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth

Juba – South Sudan government has officially resumed its oil production in unity oilfields on Monday after five years of halted subsequent the outbreak of conflict in 2013 in Juba.

The re-launched are Blocks 1, 2, and 4 located in the present day Northern Liech State in former Unity State

South Sudan’s minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth who witnessed the re-launch, says the three oil wells will be pumping 15,000 barrels per day.

 “Today, officially Unity oil field is producing and we are exporting 15, 000 barrels this is a milestone for all of us and Sudan been helping us to put into production our oil in block 1, 2 and 4,” said enthusiastic Lul.

He further said that the production will be increased to 70, 000 barrels per a day by the end of the year.

The oil field is now producing 35,000 barrels per day (bpd) which is comprised of 15,000 bpd from the Unity Oilfields and 20,000 bpd from the Toma South Oilfields.

“As we speak Toma-South is producing 20, 000 and we are producing 15, 000 here in the Unity oil field.” “By the end of 2019, the production at Toma South and Unity oilfields of Block 1,2 and 4 will increase to 70,000 barrels a day,” said South Sudan’s Oil Minister Lul, while attending the inauguration ceremony at Unity Oil Fields with his counterpart, Sudanese Oil Minister Azhari A. Abdallah.

Minister Abdallah affirmed that Sudan would continue to cooperate with South Sudan in operating the remaining oil wells.

“We promise that this is going to be on stream and we can expect the production to increase,” Minister Abdallah said.

Inhabitants want service delivery, not oil cash

In the same event, Governor of Northern Liech State, Joseph Monytuil says the people of the state are expecting more services from the government and oil companies resume drilling there, adding that the people there do not want cash money.

According the petroleum act of 2012, 2 percent of the oil revenue shall go the producing states. Those living around oilfields have been accusing the national government and oil companies of negligence.

 “I can say yes …we want our oil to come back in form of services like hospitals, schools, roads and water.” “Minister as you have seen, faces of our people are very smiling, shining and their dancing is not for free, they have hope and are very expectant that you are going to meet these expectations,” Governor Monychuil told South Sudan Petroleum Minister, Ezekiel Lul.

Besides the reported negligence, the oil production is said to have polluted the areas, causing health problems, including stillbirth, strange diseases, and deaths among the residents.

Oil production in Unity State was halted in 2013 following the outbreak of the ongoing civil war, which badly damaged the country’s oil infrastructure, killing nearly 400,000 people and displaced 4 million people from their homes, and derelict the country’s economic.

However, on June 28, 2018, South Sudanese parties signed the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, where they committed themselves to a permanent ceasefire.

In July 2018, South Sudan and Sudan have dispatched a joint technical team to oilfields in the former unity state to revive the production.

The parties also pledged to finalize a deal on the pending issues in the governance in the chapter of the 2015 peace agreement.

President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, including other opposition factions signed the revitalized peace deal on September 12, aiming to returns the world youngest nation to stability. But until now, the peace’s implementation is facing lack of funding to move on.

The South Sudanese oil is currently sold at $61/barrel.

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