South Sudan oil operators closed more 242 oil wells Friday as the government announced it has unearthed further oil theft of more than 40,000 barrels per day.
The wells were closed in Palaug oil fields in Upper Nile state that accounts for more than 60 percent of the crude oil output. In Paluag oil fields, there are 600 oil wells, and the 242 wells already shut down have halved the controversial daily output of 250,000 barrels per day, officials said.
The field is held by Petrodar Oil Company, the biggest oil operator in the country. However, the Petroleum and Mining minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said his technicians discovered that an additional 40,000 barrels were being produced per day on top of 230,000 barrels per day the company reported.
“After the resolution of shutdown, the company here tried to increase the production against what we are actually telling them to reduce to the minimum,” Dhieu said, accusing Khartoum of having a hand.
In the country’s Unity state, which officials now say accounts for nearly 40 percent of the daily output; all the oil wells have been successfully closed down.
The Council of Ministers, in a sitting chaired by President Salva Kiir, resolved a week ago to shut down the oil pipeline to avoid continuous oil theft by Sudan along the export route to Port Sudan.
South Sudan accused Khartoum of diverting millions of barrels of crude oil, a claim Khatoum denied, saying it was compensating for transit fees South Sudan had not paid.
Since South Sudan’s independence last July, the two countries, in talks mediated by the African Union in Addis Ababa have failed severally to agree on oil transit fees, border demarcation and the status of the disputed Abyei region. However, the oil row has marred relations.