South Sudan Needs Three Months to Restore Oilfield Output

South Sudan, which holds sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil reserves, said it will take as many as three months to restore crude production to maximum capacity after a dispute with neighboring Sudan shut oilfields.

An agreement with Sudan last week allowing cross-border oil flows to resume will enable South Sudan to return production to full capacity of 350,000 barrels a day, Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said today in the capital, Juba.

The landlocked country exports all its crude via a pipeline through Sudan. A dispute that began last year between the two states over exports halted oil production, cutting the size of South Sudan’s economy by half to $9.34 billion, according to World Bank data. The nation has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, BP Plc data show.

Output of Dar blend in the Upper Nile, where South Sudan’s largest oilfield is located, is currently about 170,000 barrels a day and will probably top 300,000 barrels a day within three months, Dau said. Nile blend, produced in Unity state, is at 20,000 barrels a day, according to the minister, who sees output ramping up from Sept. 12 when a new field is commissioned there.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output of 490,000 barrels a day. Its low-sulfur crude, prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation, is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The country also plans to build a pipeline connecting oilfields in Tharjath in Unity state to blocks 3 and 7 in Upper Nile state to increase production, Dau said.

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