Sudan has confiscated 2.4 million barrels of South Sudan’s oil, a South Sudanese official said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of seizures that started last month in a dispute between the two countries over oil transit fees.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. The new nation took with it about three quarters of the country’s oil output but must still pipe crude through Sudan to the Red Sea terminal at Port Sudan to export it.
The two sides have failed to agree how much the South should pay to do this, and Khartoum has started taking southern oil to make up for what it says are unpaid fees.
“Yesterday (Monday) we have been informed that the government of Sudan has again stolen 2.4 million barrels of our best quality crude oil,” South Sudan’s chief negotiator, Pagan Amum, said.
South Sudan last month shut down its roughly 350,000 barrels per day of oil production. Amum did not specify where and how Sudan was able to seize the additional 2.4 million barrels, but Sudanese officials previously said there was oil left in the pipeline even after the shutdown and that Khartoum would continue to confiscate what it considered its fair share until the two sides reached a deal.
They are now meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to resume talks aimed at resolving the dispute.
Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment on the accusation.
Amum said Sudan had released two vessels that had been waiting to load South Sudanese crude at Port Sudan but another six had arrived. Eight in total are now prevented from entering the port, he said.
“Six vessels were ready to come and load oil that they already bought, but they are not allowed to come to Port Sudan,” he said. “These companies are not coming because they have been informed that the oil they bought from South Sudan has been stolen by the government of Sudan.”
Sudan had already seized at least three shipments of oil from South Sudan, which South Sudan was worth about $815 million.
Sudanese officials have said the country is entitled to a share of the oil because South Sudan has refused to pay the related fees since it seceded, fuelling inflation and a foreign currency shortage in the northern country.
South Sudanese rebels fought Khartoum for all but a few years between 1955 and 2005 over ideology, religion, ethnicity and oil. Some 2 million people died in the conflict. (Writing and additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz in Khartoum; Editing by Jane Baird)