Sudanese Presidents Agree on Border Dispute to Speed Oil ExportsWilliam Davison
South Sudanese oil may arrive at Sudan’s Red Sea port by the end of this month after the two nations’ leaders met yesterday to resolve border issues that delayed the resumption of exports, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti said.
The blocking of crossing points by South Sudan at Jodha and Heglig affected the flow because engineers and equipment could not move freely, Karti said yesterday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, where Sudan’s President Umar al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir met during an African Union summit.
“They agreed on upgrading the level of coordination on the borders to be left to ministers of defense,” Karti said.
South Sudan resumed production of crude last month after it stopped pumping in January 2012, accusing neighboring Sudan of stealing $815 million of its oil, which Sudan said it took to recover unpaid transport and processing fees. That and other disputes, including over border security, brought the countries to the brink of war a year ago.
Oil production might be affected if the location of the two border points are not agreed on, South Sudan’s Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said in an interview. The problem shouldn’t have prevented exports resuming after South Sudan pumped crude at the rate of as much as 150,000 barrels a day since May 3, he said in Addis Ababa yesterday.
“I believe there are sufficient quantities of oil in the system for oil lifting at Port Sudan to start anyway,” Nhial said.
Before the stoppage, South Sudan produced as much as 350,000 barrels of oil a day, which generated 98 percent of government revenue. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd., before being transported via pipelines through Sudan to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
South Sudan restated its position that it is offering no support to rebels opposed to Bashir’s government, Nhial said.
President Kiir assured Bashir he’d act if he found evidence of any rebel support, Karti said.
“It was agreed that both parties should focus on freeing themselves from being connected to negative elements,” he said.
There was no progress on agreeing a process for deciding who the disputed region of Abyei belongs to, Nhial said.
A temporary administration and security forces should be established in Abyei before discussions on the final status of the area resume, Karti said.