South Sudan plans to increase its oil output by nearly 50% by June this year, as the government works towards political stability.
Speaking at the 7th African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) Conference & Exhibition in Equatorial Guinea, South Sudanese Minister of Petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said production levels of 160,000 bpd should rise by 70,000 bpd, to 230,000 bpd by the middle of the year. This will be driven by the restart of the Al-Nar, Al-Toor and Manga oilfields, which are due to restart by April 27.
“With 3.5 billion [barrels of] proven reserves and only 30% explored, there is more to offer to serious investors,” he said.
Gatkuoth also spoke of South Sudan’s desire to become the 19th member of the APPO, which promotes co-operation across the continent’s oil producing countries.
“South Sudan wants to learn how the oil industry is operating in Africa,” he explained. “We will work to make sure that South Sudan is already a member in the next meeting of APPO.”
Following five years of civil war, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir signed a peace agreement in September with Riek Machar, leader of the main rebel group. The war killed an estimated 400,000 people, displaced one third of the population and ravaged the country’s oil infrastructure.
The government has promised a return to pre-war production levels of 350,000-400,000 bpd by mid-2020. It aims to be pumping at least 270,000 bpd at the end of 2019.
Oil production resumed in January of this year from the Unity fields, but other elements of the peace deal – including the crucial joint promise to disarm and integrate respective forces – have yet to come to fruition. The International Crisis Group has warned there remains a danger of political collapse before the government of national unity is formed in May.
While South Africa and Russia have expressed interest in the country, US majors have stayed away as a result of instablity. France’s Total was also holding talks on re-acquiring some of its old Block B, but negotiations have broken down.