Total SA has agreed to begin oil exploration in the South Sudanese state of Jonglei where it holds a concession, the newly independent nation’s chief negotiator said.
“Total has already committed themselves to start the exploration this year, actually this month,” Pagan Amum told reporters today in the capital, Juba. The media desk at Total’s offices in Paris said a spokesman wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Total holds a 32.5 percent stake in Block B, which covers most of Jonglei, an eastern state bordering Ethiopia that has been wracked by tribal violence. The United Nations said more than 1,000 people were killed in battles between the Murle and Lou Nuer ethnic groups in 2011.
South Sudan took control of about three-quarters of Sudan’s output of 490,000 barrels a day when it gained independence from its northern neighbor in July. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd.
In December, Total’s chief executive officer, Christophe de Margerie, said that South Sudan and Uganda could share a pipeline to transport oil to the Indian Ocean, either to the Kenyan or Tanzanian coast.