South Sudan Shuts Down Oil Production and Accuses the North of Stealing

Workers at a South Sudan oil rig

The government of the Republic of South Sudan has decided to shut down all its oil production throughout the country in response to the action by Khartoum which confiscated the oil as it flows through North Sudan pipelines.

The resolution was passed today in the Council of Ministers meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The minister of Petroleum and Mining, Stephen Dhiew, was directed by the Council to immediately workout the technicalities of shutting down the oil operations.

South Sudan said it has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars as Khartoum took over 3 million barrels of oil that passed through the pipeline to Port Sudan. Khartoum claimed that it confiscated the oil because of unpaid fees.

However, Juba denied the claim as baseless, saying it has been paying all the fees since independence as verified by the international oil companies operating in South Sudan and therefore it was an act of aggression by the later to loot the property of an independent nation.

Officials say the process of completely shutting down all the oil wells may take a week and no single barrel will be produced.

The government of South Sudan has already notified the oil companies about the decision to shut down the oil operations in the country.

Meanwhile South Sudan will look for alternative routes of pipelines to other neighboring countries and refineries unless Khartoum will reach a future agreement with South Sudan.

Oil constitutes 98% of revenues in South Sudan, but officials say it is better keep it under the ground for sometimes instead of letting it be robbed by Khartoum.

It is not clear how Khartoum will react to this serious development but the move will adversely affect the economies of both countries due to their near-total dependence on oil.

The minister of information and official spokesperson of the government, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told journalists after the cabinet meeting that the behavior of Khartoum led to the South to completely shut down oil production. He also said the environmental impact as a result of the shutdown would be taken care of by the ministry of petroleum in the South.