JUBA – South Sudan could resume producing up to 230 000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil within a month, its Oil minister said on Saturday, after a nine-month shutdown that has battered the country’s economy.
The landlocked African producer, which seceded from Sudan last year, shut down its entire output of about 350 000 bpd in January in a dispute with Khartoum over how much it should pay to export oil through Sudan.
After striking a deal to resume crude flows, South Sudan aims to restore full output in its Upper Nile state oilfields by March 2013 and in its Unity state fields by May 2013, Stephen Dhieu Dau said in an interview.
Restoring production would give a much-needed boost to the new nation, which depended on oil for 98% of government revenues before the shutdown.
Dau said within a month South Sudan could pump between 180 000 to 200 000 bpd from the Upper Nile fields – roughly 70 to 80% of the fields’ full output – and around 30 000 bpd from the Unity fields, about 30% of their potential.
The estimate is faster than the ministry’s previous guess of about 90 days to restart production, he said, adding Sudanese officials had told South Sudan that northern infrastructure was ready for the resumption of oil flows.
“From our side we said we are now at 80% readiness. I can disclose to you that within the month, if we complete the remaining 20%, we will be resuming shorter (sooner) than we said before,” he said.
“It will be less than 90 days because the technical preparations are in place.”
South Sudan aims to boost Unity state production to about 100 000 bpd, up from around 70 000 before the shutdown, by adding new wells and introducing new technologies for existing wells to improve recovery, Dau said.