South Sudan to issue tenders for part of Total's oil block

9/14/2012

South Sudan to issue tenders for part of Total's oil block

BY NICHOLAS BARIYO

KAMPALA -- South Sudan will split a massive oil block licensed to Total into three parts and issue an international tender for two of the blocks, leaving Total with only one, according to the the country's information minister Barnaba Benjamin.

The move is the newly independent country's latest attempt to disentangle itself from oil deals signed before its secession from Sudan.

Tenders for two parts of the roughly 74,000 sq m block B, located in South Sudan's restive Jonglei state, are expected to be issued in the next few days as the country seeks to attract more investors to its oil sector, Benjamin said.

"This is a new country, we are not bound by Total's agreement with Sudan," Benjamin said, adding that the government has already reached an agreement with Total to split the block. There was no immediate reaction from Total.

South Sudan is encouraging more exploration activities to bolster its oil reserves, which are under threat after years of limited exploration activities amid insecurity. The country's 350,000 bopd oil output is expected to plummet sharply in the coming years, according to analysts.

Total halted exploration activities in the block in the mid-1980s amid civil unrest between Sudan and South Sudan. In recent years, the company has been trying to resume exploration activities. Total already holds a concession in the nearby Lake Albertine Rift basin in Uganda, where it is expected to drill up to 8 wells by the end of 2013.

Dow Jones Newswires

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