South Sudan hopes to benefit from rising global oil prices to shore up its battered economy in the wake of more than three years of brutal violence which has cut off production in its northern oil fields.

Minister of Petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told journalists here Monday that the market was rising after pump price peaked 65 US dollars per barrel on the global market, which benefits the war-torn country to earn more revenue accrued from its oil.

"The oil market is appreciating now very well; the oil price is going up to 65 dollars a barrel and yet in South Sudan it's something we need to cerebrate because our economy is driven by oil. We are going very well in the oil industry," Gatkuoth said in Juba after returning from Vienna where he attended last week's meeting of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

He added that the global oil price is very good and that both OPEC and non-OPEC members like South Sudan have agreed to continue with the oil production cap to stabilize the market.

South Sudan depends on oil for 98 per cent of its Budget and the 2017/18 approved budget totalled to 300 million US dollars.

Gatkuoth revealed that production in the country has since declined due to conflict and they were working to improve on current output.

"If you look at the production in Dar Petroleum or DPOC in Paloch, we used to produce 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) but now we are producing 135,000 to 140,000 bpd. Then if you go to GPOC we used to produce close to 200,000 barrels a day but now we are producing zero. So we have agreed with Sudan to resume the production there," he disclosed.

In October, President Salva Kiir and his Sudan counterpart, President Omar al-Bashir met in Khartoum and agreed to speed up resumption of oil production.

Gatkuoth also said that foreign oil companies Total and Tullow were coming to invest in some of the country's oil blocks. "Total is coming back for B1, B2 and you have Tullow being committed to making sure that we are going to seal the deal with them. After the oil conference here in Juba a lot of oil companies are interested to come to South Sudan," he said.

Meanwhile, he also said that they were in talks with regional countries like Kenya and Uganda to construct an oil pipeline that will cater for mostly the oil in the southern part of South Sudan, while the oil in the northern part continues to flow through Sudan.

"In the southern part of South Sudan we will have to have an alternative pipeline, but the oil that are actually in the northern part they will continue to go to Sudan. So we are in discussion with Uganda and Kenya to see alternative route that can be used," he said.

Source: NAM News Network

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