By NICHOLAS BARIYO
Landlocked South Sudan has resumed crude oil shipments from
Port Sudan for the first time in 18 months, as the two former
civil war foes make renewed efforts to diffuse the latest spat
over the use of transit oil facilities, the main obstacle for
the newly independent nation's oil exports, South Sudan's
information minister said Tuesday.
The first consignment of crude left Port Sudan on Sunday for
Asia, as the country seeks urgent revenues to heal its ailing
economy that has been battered hard by a row with Sudan since
mid-2011, Barnaba Benjamin told Dow Jones
The shipment left the port the same day South Sudan's vice
president, Riek Machar, arrived in Sudan for talks with
Sudanese officials to ease the latest tensions.
"Oil exports are important for both South Sudan and Sudan,"
Mr. Benjamin said. "On our part, we remain committed to the
implementation of the cooperation agreements with Sudan"
According to Mr. Benjamin, South Sudan intends sell more
than 7 million barrels of crude already at storage terminals at
Port Sudan to the international markets in the next few
Last month, Sudan informed South Sudan that it would block
crude shipments through its territory within two months unless
Juba stops supporting rebels inside several Sudanese border
states. South Sudan denies the accusations.
Mr. Machar, who is accompanied by five South Sudanese
ministers, met President Omar Al Bashir on Sunday and they
discussed a wide range of issues and "the importance of
safeguarding the bilateral relations between Khartoum and
Juba," a Sudanese government spokesman said Monday.
Mr. Machar's visit is the first by a South Sudanese government
official since Sudan announced plans to block oil exports.
South Sudan has an export deal with Switzerland-based trader
Trafigura Group. It has been pumping an average of 200,000 bpd
since May after an agreement with Sudan to restart exports.
South Sudan hoped to restore oil output to the pre-closure
capacity of around 350,000 bpd by around August, but the latest
spat threatens to hurt production, industry officials say.
Deep-rooted mistrust continues to hinder the peaceful
resolution of a litany of disputes, ranging from disputed
territories along the border to the backing of proxy rebels
between the two nations.
Last month, US-based group Enough project accused both countries of
maintaining troops in at least 14 locations within their
contested border areas, in violation of the September 2012
agreements to demilitarize the oil-rich common border
Dow Jones Newswires