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AGREEMENT – Oil production to resume in Heglig

Morris Dogga

South Sudan and Sudan have agreed to resume oil production at the border town of Heglig, the Minister of Information Michael Makuei said on Wednesday.

The agreement was reached following a visit by a delegation from Sudan headed by the Foreign Affairs Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed and the Minister of Oil and Gas Azhari Abdallah.

There had been dispute between the government of Sudan and South Sudan over the ownership, security, land ownership, and control of oil production at Heglig.

In 2012, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) clashed over the control of the area halting oil production and causing damage to the facility.

Addressing journalists after an extra ordinary Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, Makuei said the petroleum Minister-Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and the Sudanese Oil Minister Azhari Abdallah have agreed to work collaboratively to revive the production.

According to Makuei, the two ministers would be meeting after the feast of Ramadan and would visit the production site in Heglig to assess the level of damage that had been caused as a result of the fighting.

He added that a joint force would be constituted by the two countries to protect the facilities.

“They also agreed for a joint deployment of forces to protect the production site so that the “rebels” from Sudan and South Sudan are deterred from destroying the production equipment,” he said.

Heglig is a town at the border between the South Kordofan state of Sudan and the former Unity State.

The two governments have each claimed the ownership of the areas.  Revenues from oil accounts for about 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue.

Since the country seceded from Sudan in 2011, they have not agreed on a number of issues including border positions.

Heglig is situated within the Muglad Basin, a rift basin which contains much of South Sudan’s proven oil reserves.

Production at Heglig is reported to have peaked in 2006. The Heglig oil field is connected to Khartoum and Port Sudan via the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline.

In July 2009, the international organization, Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) redefined the boundaries of Abyei, a county that lies between South Sudan and Sudan. The decision placed the Heglig and Bamboo oilfields out of Abyei boundary but did not specify to be belonging to the Sudan province of South Kordofan, nor to Upper Nile region, South Sudan, and also the decision did not specify oil sharing. The government of Sudan claimed that the area belongs to its country since it was to be out of Abyei boundary by PCA and announced they would not share any oil revenue with the Government of South Sudan, emphasizing that the PCA established that Heglig was part of the north. The document of the PCA only indicated that the Heglig or Panthou area is not part of Abyei.



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