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South Sudan oil production continues despite crisis


December 23, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Monday that oil-production has continued despite the violence that has swept through the country over the last week, since a clash within the presidential guards on 15 December.

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Stephen Dhieu Dau (Getty/file)

The number of workers at oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states has been reduced, minister Dau told reporters.

"Oil continues to flow normally in Upper Nile state. There is no problem there. It is only in Unity state where there are some issues but it has not stopped flowing. We only reduced the number of workers in Unity state to minimal level because of security reasons", he said.

Dau did not comment on whether the reduction in workforce would affect normal production levels and the amount of oil that is exported to international markets through neighbouring Sudan.

The commander of the South Sudanese army in Unity state defected over the weekend and has appointed himself as the state’s new governor, siding with South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar who is leading a rebellion against president Salva Kiir.

Machar has denied Kiir’s allegation that he attempted to staged a coup a week ago but now says that he wants the president to stand down. South Sudan’s army is preparing for an offensive in Jonglei to retake the state capital Bor.

Following reports that Nuer civilians were targetted during the violence in Juba General Peter Gadet led a mutiny in Bor that has displaced thousands of civilians and forced government officials to shelter at the UN compound there.

An official at the ministry of petroleum and mining, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Sudan Tribune that as well as all foreign staff, workers from the Dinka ethnic group and others who asked to leave have been removed from Unity state.

Clashes between oil workers from rival clans at the Unity and Tharjath oil fields on last week killed 16 people with over 200 people forced to seek refuge in the UN compound in Bentiu town.

Oil company employees from the Nuer ethnic group attacked their Dinka colleagues - reportedly using spears, sticks and knives - as revenge for the alleged targetting of Nuer civilians in Juba since in the fighting broke out on a week ago.

Tensions have been building in the Nuer community in Bentiu after the clashes in Juba left around 500 people dead. Human Rights Watch and others have reported that some civilians were targetted on the basis of their ethnicity.

The ministry official said that what Dau said was "correct in the sense that oil production in Unity state has not been fully closed down at the moment. What happened is that the ministry decided to remove foreign and those local workers who are not from [the] Nuer [tribe], together with those who have expressed deep concern about their safety, even though they were not being targeted."

He says the ministry was forced to scale-down operations because the current unrest in the country had taken on an "ethnic dimension", between Nuer and Dinka after the clashes between the Presidential Guard began in Juba over a week ago.

"The ministry was forced to take these measures because you may have heard what happened last week in Tharjath between the workers themselves and the events in Parieng and Bentiu respectively. Workers turned against their own colleagues and killed. The same way soldiers did in Parieng Bentiu. The incident in Juba was misinterpreted by the politicians to appeal tribal sentiments", he said.

The ministry source said he could not provide the total number of the workers the ministry had approved to remain at the oil fields or the numbers that have been removed as they were still assembling details from the oil companies working at the Unity and Upper Nile state.


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  • 24 December 2013 08:45, by Paul Chadrack

    Riek just close down the oil and we will see where those greedy bhar el gazel go. It is a God mistake to place such people with us in s sudan.

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    • 24 December 2013 08:57, by Gat Gan Kiir

      I am tired for the word that" South Sudan government said that the army is preparing to retake Bor" how long it take you to retake Bor and how long you are going to finish preparing yourself? Come on guys, don’t made things up, no more talk only action is needed. Doot Bany will never face the Mighty Nuer, they only know how to slaughter unarmed civilian. We call for war for only four weeks. Kormid

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      • 24 December 2013 11:06, by mathem jech amer

        Gat Gan Kiir
        Yes, I believe Kiir forces got resistance.These forces moved from Juba since last Friday going to Bor, today is Fifth Day and Bor is just 3 hours drive from Juba. What hell going on with them nobody knows, surrendered to Gadet or face resistance?

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      • 24 December 2013 13:50, by Darkangel

        They fooled you Southerners in leaving the North, now they will fool you to give power to a non dinka or nuer. But a Zionist - Israeli/American worshiper.

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    • 24 December 2013 09:14, by Joseph Canada


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  • 24 December 2013 13:44, by Mohammed Ali 2

    Oil production from SS now is only 60k bpd.SS has to pay the $ 5 Billions which it borrowed at a very high interest rate.If the oil is shut down again, we have to forget about oil for the next 20 years.Companies were’nt investing such a choatic atmosphere.Oil industry needs continious investment to keep it rununing.Nobody will put his money deep in a well if he is not sure he is getting more out !

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  • 24 December 2013 14:45, by Konan

    To find an amicable solution to the current crisis in SS. nor Dinka neither Nuer should assume power. A man from Shulk ethnic group, which is the 3rd largest tribe in SS, should be the interim president of SS for next year to prepare for the coming election in 2015. Surely Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, and not Pagan Amum Okech, is the best choice and acceptable to all Southerners.

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