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South Sudan oil production to resume in September: minister

 President al-Bashir receives South Sudanese Oil Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth on 29 July 2018 (SUNA Photo)
July 29, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir received a letter from his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir on the expected resumption of oil production next September.

The letter was handed over by South Sudanese Oil Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth who met al-Bashir on Saturday evening.

After the meeting, the minister told reporters that oil production will resume on 2 September with 45,000 barrels per day from El Toor and Toma South fields. After what will restart the production of other oil fields in Munga and Unity.

"So, by the end of the year, production in the blocks 1,2,4 will be at its maximum capacity," he added.

The meeting, which took place at the Guest House, was attended by Salah Gosh the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Services.

On June 27, South Sudanese parties signed the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, where they committed themselves to a permanent ceasefire and pledged to finalize a deal on the pending issues in the governance chapter of the 2015 peace agreement.

The declaration provides to resume immediately in collaboration with the Sudanese government the rehabilitation of the damaged oil installations in the Unity region, Blocks 1,2, 4 and 5.

On Saturday, South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and Sudan’s Minister of Oil and Gas Azhari Abdel-Gader inspected the rehabilitation work at Toma South oil field.

In press statements following the visit, Abdel-Gader described the completion of the paved road ahead of schedule as “big achievement”, saying he and his South Sudanese counterpart are committed to implementing the agreement on the resumption of oil pumping.

For his part, Gatkuoth said the two sides are committed to resuming oil pumping in early September according to the agreed plan, praising efforts of companies operating in rehabilitating South Sudan oil fields.

He further instructed the companies to finish work at Toma South field as soon as possible and then head to Munga field which is ready for oil pumping.

It is noteworthy that the Khartoum Declaration does not provide for the immediate resumption of oil production because South Sudan’s opposition led by Riek Machar rejected this idea saying this step should intervene after the signing of a comprehensive political settlement.

Khartoum proposed to repair and protect the installations in coordination with the South Sudanese government and to resume the production which will intervene within several weeks when the discussions are concluded.

South Sudan heavily relies on oil income to fund up to 98% of its budget. Also, it relies on the Sudanese pipeline to export its oil production through the Red Sea.

Analysts say the resumption of oil production will also benefit Sudan and Uganda.

Khartoum is in dire needs for hard currency from the exportation of South Sudanese oil through its pipelines and ports at the Red Sea, while Kampala wants to resume goods exportation to the South Sudanese market.

The world newest nation says it is producing around 130,000 barrels of oil a day but plans to double it by the end of the year.