South Sudan’s oil production is recovering from years of conflict, according to Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the country’s Minister of Petroleum, but many obstacles remain even as oilfield operations come back online.
Security was top of mind as South Sudan took the spotlight during the Africa Oil & Power conference in Cape Town, which ended Friday.
“Investors will be protected. We are committed to attracting new investment from global partners and increasing exploration activities,” Gatkuoth said. In July, he announced a partnership with Sudan establishing a joint patrol to protect oil fields and pipelines in border regions. The countries also work together to repair oil infrastructure destroyed by years of war.
South Sudan is open to new exploration, especially in its B1 and B2 blocks, and seeking out technology-driven service companies to support national goals, the minister added. Nilepet, South Sudan’s national oil company, also is seeking partners for joint ventures.
Yet despite recent moves towards a lasting peace, the volatile South Sudan’s Nilepet also remains under sanctions imposed by the United States in March, along with 14 other oil-industry entities. “The listed entities are a source of substantial revenue for the Government of South Sudan,” the U.S. said in its statement. However, the government and corrupt elites use the resources to fund the conflict, it adds.
Investigations by Global Witness and the Enough Project earlier this year found South Sudanese officials were profiting from the oil wealth while using it to support armed groups responsible for attacks on civilians and human rights atrocities.
“There is little evidence that oil revenue is reaching those who need it most and the industry is shrouded in secrecy,” the Global Witness report said. “Oil is also a key driver of the devastating conflict.”
Image: Nilepet file