Sudan says Juba owes over $1 billion, says Heglig oil production to be boosted
KHARTOUM – The Sudanese oil Minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz today reiterated accusations that South Sudan deliberately planned to sabotage his country’s oil infrastructure to hurt its economy.
In a briefing to Sudanese national assembly, al-Jaz said that technical teams are still in the oil-rich town of Heglig assessing damage to oil facilities created by the brief occupation of South Sudan army (SPLA) last month.
He refused to give an estimate of the damages saying that his ministry is keen on providing “accurate and factual” information to lawmakers and prevent confusion among investors.
Nonetheless the oil minister gave some details of the physical damage which he said included fully blowing up the main electricity station, which produced 17 megawatts, by placing explosive devices between each machine and detonating it from a distance.
Al-Jaz also claimed that South Sudan ignited a fire in the main pipeline, destroyed tanks of crude which led to the flow of oil from the main processing center and bombed the main warehouse containing spare parts for machinery and installations.
The work was all done by foreign experts, al-Jaz said, brought by South Sudan government. He said that all the looting and sabotaging has been well documented and will be used in international legal proceedings against Juba.
A South Sudanese official had claimed that Sudan aerial bombardment created a large part of the damage in Heglig oil facilities.
Al-Jaz also informed the parliament that the capacity of Heglig oil field will increase to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its optimal current levels of 55,000.
“We assure you the oil ministry is moving along in its programme for this year, to upgrade production and increase it from blocks 2 and 4, which represent the Heglig area, to a ceiling of 80,000 bpd of crude,” he said.
The government said last week it had begun pumping oil again after partial repairs to the Heglig facility, but it did not say how much oil was flowing or when full production could resume.
In a related issue, the oil minister alleged that South Sudan owes $1 billion for usage of the oil pipelines last year but did not elaborate.
Effective earlier this year, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production to stop Khartoum from seizing part of it to make up for what it calls unpaid fees for transit and use of its facilities. The two sides could not agree on what a fair charge should be for the service.
Khartoum wanted the South to pay $36 per barrel but Juba dismissed the figure and offered around $1.
The landlocked south can only export its crude through Sudan to a Red Sea terminal at port Sudan.
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