South Sudan reignites dormant blocks to boost oil production

By Okech Francis and Paul Burkhardt on 4/17/2019
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Photo: African army marching in South Sudan.

JOHANNESBURG (Bloomberg) -- South Sudan plans to increase oil production by using blocks that were shut-in due to civil war, according to the nation’s oil minister.

The country aims to reach 200,000 bopd of output this year, Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said in an interview. Current production is about 168,000 bopd, he said.

“Focus number one is to resume production in blocks that have been dormant for the last five years,” Gatkuoth said. The second priority is to increase output from those areas, and the third is to encourage exploration, he said.

The country’s economy will benefit from an increase in supply and help restore confidence, Central Bank Governor Dier Tong Ngor said earlier this month. Leaders agreed last year to end five years of violence that left 400,000 people dead and displaced 4 million others.

South Sudan is concerned with the standoff in neighboring Sudan where protestors are calling for a swift handover to a civilian government in the wake of the ouster of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir. It is monitoring two pipelines that bring crude through the country to Port Sudan, though so far operations have been normal, Gatkuoth said.

Alternative pipelines have been put on hold and construction will only resume if there are new discoveries, according to the minister. The new links could run through East Africa or to Djibouti, he said.

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