South Sudan’s petroleum ministry, local firms and three multinational oil and gas companies on Friday extended their oil exploration and production agreements for five years.

The international companies awarded the contracts included China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

The government also agreed to compensate local subsidiaries of the CNPC and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation an unspecified amount of money for a shutdown of oil production in 2012 following a dispute over transit fees with neighbouring Sudan and the interruption of oil production after civil war broke out in December 2013.

Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said the agreements were vital in boosting South Sudan’s conflict-stricken economy by setting a target to increase oil production to over 300,000 barrels a day.

Gatkuoth assured the oil companies of protection of their personnel and infrastructure in oil producing blocks affected by civil war in Unity and Upper Niles states.

“We will move quickly to repair all the damaged facilities and put them to production,” he said.

South Sudan depends on oil revenue to finance some 98 percent of its budget. Three years of civil war cut its oil output to the current about 160,000 barrels per day, down from 350,000 in 2012.

The country now only produces oil in Upper Nile after oil fields in Unity were shut down in 2014 following their devastation in the war. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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