Kiir turns to Tut to tackle dragging Sudan oil pipeline saga

Kiir turns to Tut to tackle dragging Sudan oil pipeline saga

South Sudan’s economy may continue to experience challenges due to the depleted income from the oil sector owing to the ruptured oil pipeline passing through Sudan that is yet to be repaired.

Juba noted on Tuesday that plans are underway to fix the oil pipelines to restore the oil flow but such would come in the backdrop of continued fighting in Sudan, which poses greater challenges to the engineers.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday after a meeting over the issue, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Petroleum, William Anyak, stated that the export of South Sudan oil to international markets through Port Sudan stopped on February 6 when the pipeline got ruptured and its repair became a pipe dream.

According to Anyak, the engineers have been unable to fix the pipeline due to the fighting in Sudan, and President Salva Kiir had directed the Presidential Advisor on National Security, Tut Gatluak, to engage the Sudanese warring parties to allow oil engineers to fix the ruptured oil pipeline.

“The level of escalation has increased, and it has impacted our progress on those issues of fixing the broken oil pipeline. That is why the President directed Tut Gatluak to engage all the warring parties to allow our engineers to be on the ground to resolve those issues,” said he said.

He said that in addition, the engineers are facing the challenges of lack of communication, accessibility, and delivery of materials to the site, especially the pump stations and some essential facilities in Sudan. He added that they have already fixed the ruptured pipeline and are now struggling to remove the wax in the pipeline.

“To remove the wax from the pipeline, you have to push it at least out or drain it out by pumping hot water or pumping diesel to restore this process, and the pipeline is 1,400 kilometres starting from Jebelain up to the Marine Terminal. Along this pipeline, we have more than six pump stations between one station and another, which is almost 200 kilometres,” said William.

The meeting was also attended by the Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, Tut Gatluak, the Ambassador of China to South Sudan, Man Qiang, and the representatives of oil companies who had come to discuss ways of fixing the broken pipes.

Meanwhile, Amb. Qiang said they are aware of South Sudan’s challenges in the oil sector and assured of China’s support in addressing them.

“I assure you that China will continue to provide support and cooperation with the partners to try to solve the problem and tackle the challenges. In the future, we will continue to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in the oil sector and other sectors to strengthen our bilateral relations and benefit people from the cordial relations together for our people in Africa,” said Qiang.

On February 6, Port Sudan stopped when the pipeline rupture happened in Sudan’s Nile State, an area controlled by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which is fighting the Sudanese army for power in the country.

Costly disruption

The disruption in South Sudan’s oil flow has cost the government lucrative oil revenue that normally finds the country’s giant share of the budget. This has forced the government to adopt newer measures to plug the shortfall, such as leveraging on the non-oil revenue earned through taxation.

However, in his address to the Parliament last week, the minister of finance and planning, Eng. Awow Daniel said there is a huge revenue shortage that is even preventing the government from paying the salary arrears.