South Sudan studies new export routes to bypass the north

Mar 12, 2011 12:00 AM

By Maram Mazen

Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir is studying different ways of exporting oil pumped in Sudan’s south, accusing the north Sudanese government of arming rebel militias in the south to overthrow his government, a Southern Sudan minister said.

Kiir “has directed me to the possibility of stopping the export of oil from the south through the north after July 2011,” when Southern Sudan would be declared independent from the rest of Sudan, Pagan Amum told reporters.

The Southern Sudan government has “detailed evidence” that Sudan’s current President Umar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party is arming, funding and training militias in the south to topple the southern government before July 2011, said Amum, who is also the Secretary General of Southern Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

“If they want to stop the oil, it is their decision and they should look to other solutions,” Rabie Abel Ati, a senior member of the NCP said recently. The militia accusations are “not true,” he said, adding “we respect the will of the south.”

Southern Sudan holds about 75% of Sudan’s current oil production of 490,000 bpd, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Sudan had 5 bn barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2010, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Land-locked

While most of the crude is in the land-locked south, Sudan’s only oil refineries and the only export route run north from oilfields to Port Sudan on the Red Sea in northern Sudan. The Southern Sudan government requested the UN’s Security Council to investigate “the conspiracy” aiming to topple it, Amum said.

South Sudan has also declared it will suspend talks with the north over all post-independence arrangements between the north and the south “until it stops its policy for obstructing stability in South Sudan, and until after the Security Council’s investigation is concluded,” Amum said.

The two sides are discussing issues including citizenship rights, responsibility for Sudan’s $ 38 bn of foreign debt and security arrangements.

Fighting intensified

Fighting has intensified in the south since almost 99 % of southern Sudanese voters chose to secede from the rest of Sudan in the January 2011 referendum. Fightings on Feb. 9-10 between the Southern Sudanese army and forces loyal to renegade General George Athor killed 197 people in Jonglei state, according to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
The Southern Sudanese army repelled an attack by another militia in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, army spokesman Philip Aguer said from Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.

The referendum was the centrepiece of a 2005 peace accord that ended a civil war which lasted almost 50 years, except for a cease-fire from 1972 to 1983, between the Muslim north and the south, where Christianity and traditional religions dominate. About 2 million people died in the second phase of the conflict.
The two sides currently split oil proceeds, and they haven’t reached an agreement on how to share oil revenue after Southern Sudan’s independence.

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