UNITY OILFIELD, South Sudan (Reuters) - South Sudan started pumping on Monday an additional 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from its Unity oilfields, its oil minister said.
Oil minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth told Reuters on Sunday the country had begun to repair wells damaged in the civil war and that wells reopening on Monday would add 12,000 bpd to output, rising to 70,000 bpd by the end of 2019.
Prior to the increase, production was at 160,000 bpd.
“Today, officially, Unity Oil production is opened,” Gatkuoth said during a ceremony at the field, hailing cooperation with neighbouring Sudan which he said was “unbreakable” and would lead to the opening of new blocks.
South Sudan’s oil infrastructure was badly damaged in its civil war, which broke out in 2013, two years after it had become independent from Sudan.
Production plunged to less than half of pre-war levels, but wells are being repaired with the help of the Sudanese, said Gatkuoth. Malaysia’s Petronas, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh) and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) all have stakes in South Sudanese fields.
“We promise that this is going to be on stream and we can expect the production to increase,” Sudan’s oil minister, Azhari Abdel Qader, said.
Cargoes have been booked until the end of March, Gatkuoth said, but now there would be additional oil for sale. South Sudan’s Dar blend is currently being sold for $61 per barrel.
Sudan receives between about $9-11 per barrel of oil that landlocked South Sudan pumps through its pipeline to the port, the minister said.
Additional reporting by Katharine Houreld in Juba; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Potter