By NICHOLAS BARIYO
KHARTOUM -- Sudan postponed the planned shutdown of key oil
pipelines that carry crude from landlocked South Sudan to the
export terminal, in order to give African Union mediators more
time to resolve outstanding security disputes between the two
countries, a government spokesman said.
The new date for the closure September 6, 2013 is a major
relief for South Sudan, whose oil shipments through Sudan were
due to stop on Aug. 21. The earlier planned closure and
subsequent halt to South Sudanese exports was seen as a major
economic threat to both nations because they depend heavily on
oil income. The prospect of lower exports had also buoyed
global oil prices in recent weeks.
The new extension will allow African Union military
investigators more time to investigate allegations that both
countries continue to back rebels against each other.
"There is some progress, the new deadline is now September
6, 2013 and hopefully, the pipeline won't be closed, if
we resolve the issues through talks said Rabie Abdelaty,
Sudan's government spokesman." An African Union delegation and
China's special envoy to Africa, Zhong Jianhua, travelled to
Khartoum last month, in last ditch efforts to avert the
impending pipelines shutdown.
China is the largest importer of crude from both Sudan and
South Sudan. Last week, South Sudan said it had paused the
scale down of oil flow through Sudan following promising talks
with Khartoum. South Sudan continues to pump at least 160,000
bpd of crude through two pipelines that straddle Sudan, its
sole oil export route. The volumes are still less than the
200,000 bpd that the country had been exporting since May,
before the latest escalation of tensions.
Until January 2012, South Sudan produced at least 350,000
bpd of crude before shutting down its entire production for
around 18 months, amid disputes with Sudan. The current oil
production started around April and South Sudan had hoped to
restore output to pre-closure capacity by around September.
Dow Jones Newswires