JUBA, South Sudan, South Sudan said, it would not shut down oil production, despite growing pressure from lawmakers, calling for a temporal halt due to declining oil prices.

Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth, said, his ministry was seeking to increase oil production from the current 133,000 barrels per day to 350,000 next year.

“Instead of shutting it down, we are going to increase the production in early 2017,” Gatkuoth said.

He added that, the government had put measures in place, to restore security at oil-producing sites.

South Sudan, which descended into civil war in Dec, 2013, depends on oil revenue to finance some 98 percent of its budget.

The landlocked country uses the pipeline in its northern neighbour Sudan, to transport its crude oil to the international market.

Oil production plummeted, after the civil war forced major oil fields in Upper Nile and Unity states to shut down.

Declining oil prices mean South Sudan is unable to fetch substantial revenue from oil, while the parliament claimed last month, the government got only 19 percent of oil revenue and that Sudan was taking the bigger portion.

An agreement reached in 2012, requires South Sudan to pay Sudan 24 U.S. dollars per barrel, for pipeline fee and other tariffs.

Gatkuoth said, his ministry had invited global oil companies to assess the sustainability of oil blocks that are not currently in use in the country and to invest.

“We are inviting all the oil companies to come and invest in South Sudan, and if they meet the criteria of technical and financial capability, we will award them oil blocks to explore,” he said.


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