By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 12, 2013 (BENTIU) - South Sudan’s petroleum and mining minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, has reopened an oil field in Unity state’s Eltoor and Toma South area after its shutdown in January 2012.
- In this Tuesday, April 24, 2012 photo, Sudanese workers inspect burnt out oil pipes at the oil-rich border town of Heglig, Sudan (AP)
Officials say the reopening of the oil field in the area will increase oil production outputs destined for international markets.
Authorities in South Sudan started restarted oil production in Unity state following recent talks between South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
Oil production was scaled down in the region after a series of threats from Khartoum in July to block oil flows through pipelines in its territory.
Dhieu travelled to the Toma South and Eltoor areas to witness the resumption of oil production.
“The visit to the Unity oil field is to witness the resumption of Tor oil field which will [be] added to the daily production [of] 5,300 barrels a day”, said Dhieu in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Dhieu said the reopening of the oil field was good news for the regional economy, saying it would boost overall production from 25,000 barrels a day to more than 30,000.
Dhieu praised recent talks between the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments, saying outstanding oil and security issues had been “totally resolved”.
Dhieu said both countries have shown a willingness to build on bilateral relations in order to create a conducive environment for oil production and resolve any future political or security issues.
Beny Ngor Chol, a field base manager of production for Greater Pioneer Operating Company, said the oil shutdown had greatly affected the lives of people in the community, adding that the resumption of oil would help improve development in the area.
“Now we are resuming [oil production] it also means that we get more money for the country. When we talk of more money, it is also means there is a development, which will help education and other social welfare” so people are celebrating and they are happy and at the same time I’m happy as well”, he said.
Chol said a number of challenges continued to hamper the progress of oil production in the area, namely poor road maintenance.
“One of the major challenges that we are facing here is the road problem, [and] some of the wells, we could not access them because of the weather. That is why you see our production is coming down and because of the weather but soon, in the next couple of months, I believe our production will boom”, said Chol.
Officials say hostilities between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Heglig or Panthou throughout 2012 had dramatically reduced oil production in Unity state’s oil fields.
However, Dhieu said he expects oil production to rise by mid-November from 30,000 to 60,000 barrels per day in Unity state alone.