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  • on 29.11.2012
  • at 06:34 PM
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South Sudan Oiling Up for Self-Reliance 0

As South Sudan continues negotiations with Sudan regarding the resumption of oil production and transit, the South Sudanese government says that it is developing its own industry and will start producing fuel for domestic consumption within the next eight months in order to avoid continued reliance on its neighbour.

South Sudan’s Petroleum and Mining Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told IPS that as oil was due to start flowing again, one of the government’s priorities was to establish the nation’s infrastructure in order to process the commodity itself.

“Our aim is to ensure that some of the oil can be processed in the country to meet domestic needs and end the frequent shortages of diesel and petrol in our country,” Dau said.

South Sudan shut down its production of oil in January after a dispute with neighbouring Sudan over oil transit fees. Both countries agreed to resume oil production and trade on Sep. 27 after former South African President Thabo Mbeki led the African Union’s mediation efforts in attempting to defuse a range of disagreements that spiked in January, which almost led to full-blown war in April.

Oil sales contributed 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue. But despite taking with it 75 percent of Sudan’s oilwhen it gained independence from the rest of the country in 2011, South Sudan currently relies on Sudanese refineries and pipelines to process and transport its oil to the international market.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said on Monday Nov. 26 at a meeting of state governors that oil production had not resumed this month as originally expected because of demands by Sudan that the country disarm the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North.

He did add that the issue would be resolved soon as he had spoken with Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir on Sunday Nov. 25 and they agreed that officials from the two countries would soon meet to discuss the issue.

But in a bid to reduce reliance on Sudan, on Nov. 20 Kiir launched the construction of an oil refinery in Melut, an oil-producing area in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. A second refinery is being built in Tharjath, another oil-producing area located in the country’s Unity state. Both refineries are expected to have the capacity to refine 10,000 barrels per day.

Dau said the oil refineries were expected to be operational by July 2013, when the government expects to start producing fuel for domestic consumption.

“These refineries will create employment opportunities for our youth, which is one of the things we want so that people benefit from our natural resources,” Dau added.

Edmond Yakani of the local NGO Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation said that in addition to refineries, the landlocked country needed to build its own pipeline to the Kenyan Port of Lamu.

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By Charlton Doki

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