February 21, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the state-owned oil company (Nilepet), barely two years after he was appointed.
- The newly appointed Nilepet director James Mathiang Rok (Photo: Larco Lomayat)
In a decree announced on the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation Monday, President Kiir removed Machar Achiek Ader and appointed James Mathiang Rok as his successor.
It is still unclear why Achiek, appointed head Nilepet in November 2015, was sacked.
Nilepet is the public company managed by the government with a mandate to oversee oil production, but has, over the years, been plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, regularly forcing the president to make changes.
South Sudan heavily relies on oil for over 98% of its revenues, but mismanagement of the resources have allegedly cost the country millions of dollars in recent years and pushed the citizens to return to into exile as refugees after living conditions, resulting from effects of over three years of the ongoing war have been unbearable.
The new changes confirmed earlier speculations that the president would move quickly clean up the oil sector. Officials claim Nilepet routinely spent almost half the proceeds from crude oil sales before they reached the ministry of finance.
The country is hit by hyperinflation making the president come under pressure for which many citizens expect him to take decisive action and head off the effects of the oil shock. He is also to stamp out corruption, spread wealth more evenly across the country’s estimated population of 12 million people and to end its ongoing conflict.
Since its independence, South Sudan has relied on oil for all income—a situation that has significantly compounded ongoing political and economic instability due to fall in crude oil prices. The collapse in oil prices has left the state’s coffers depleted and government faces huge budget deficits.
in the past, officials say, oil production reached as high as 350,000 bpd but fell after a dispute with Sudan over fees for pumping South Sudan’s crude through Sudan’s export pipeline, which led Juba to halt production in 2012.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to the ongoing pricing disputes.