Sudan puts new obstacles to oil sales, South complains

November 27, 2012 - 3:36:49 am

JUBA/KHARTOUM: Sudan has put a new obstacle in the way of allowing its land-locked southern neighbour to pipe its oil to the Red Sea, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said yesterday, dashing plans to revive production after an 11-month break.

Sudan’s currency fell to a historic low against the dollar on the black market yesterday, highlighting the importance for both countries to get oil from South Sudan’s oilfields via the north for export.

In January, South Sudan shut down its entire oil output of 350,000 barrels a day after tensions with Sudan over oil fees escalated, but an agreement to reopen the export pipelines was signed in September. Oil is the economic lifeline for both.

But Kiir said Sudan had now demanded as a new condition for reopening the pipeline that South Sudan disarm rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North), which operate in two states bordering South Sudan.

“It is an impossible mission which our brothers in the government in Khartoum would want us to undertake. Because of this Khartoum authorities have refused to accept passage of South Sudan oil through their territory to market,” he told state governors and UN officials in a speech in Juba.

“We are a different country, SPLM-North is in a different country. You cannot imagine that a foreign army can cross to another country to go and conduct disarmament. That can’t be. It will not happen,” he said.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting the SPLM-North, which seeks together with rebels from the western region of Darfur to topple Sudan’s veteran president, Omar Hassan Al Bashir. Juba denies any links to the SPLM-North. 

Sudanese officials were not immediately available to comment on Kiir’s remarks. State news agency Suna said in a brief report that Bashir and Kiir had spoken by phone yesterday and agreed to speed up executing the deal to restart oil.