South Sudan starts closing oil wells

2013-07-23 17:31

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Juba - South Sudan will shut down production at a clutch of oil blocks in Unity State from Thursday, as it closes all wells at the insistence of Sudan in a row over alleged rebel support, its oil minister said on Tuesday.

Last week, the African nation said it had started shutting its output after Sudan said it would close two cross-border oil pipelines within 60 days unless South Sudan gave up support for Sudanese rebels. Juba denies backing them.

Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told reporters that engineers had so far started closing wells only on the country's main Palouge field in blocks 3 and 7.

"1, 2, 4 and 5a shutdown will start 25 July," Dau said, referring to smaller fields in Unity state. He gave no new production figures, saying only it was less than 180 000 barrels a day last measured on Friday.

South Sudan only resumed oil production in April, after turning off wells pumping around 300 000 barrels per day in January 2012 when both sides failed to agree on pipeline fees.

Its oil exports need to go through Sudan's Red Sea terminal in the absence of export facilities in the South, which seceded from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal ending a civil war.

The shutdown affects oil sales of China National Petroleum, Malaysia's Petronas and India's ONGC Videsh which run the oilfields in South Sudan together with the government.

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Read more on:    sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa
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