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JUBA - 31 Dec 2014

Oil minister says Upper Nile fields ‘running normally’

South Sudan’s Petroleum Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, says oil production in Upper Nile State is ‘running normally’ but acknowledges the government has lost control over the oil fields in Unity State.

In an interview with Radio Miraya on Sunday, Dau admitted that forces loyal to former vice president Riek Machar Teny have control over all oil wells in Unity State. 

Oil workers in the state have been unable to continue their work due to a complete shutdown of pipelines, according to the South Sudanese minister. He also predicted serious damage to oil installations as well as to environmental damage in the state due to non-systematic closure without technical care.

Dhieu asserted, on the other hand, that the Upper Nile fields remain under government control. His press secretary elaborated in a press release the following day that blocks 3 and 7 operated by Dar Petroleum Operating Company are continuing production and “most of staffs have reported back to work.”

One of Machar’s political associates speaking to Radio Tamazuj yesterday confirmed that Melut and Renk, the two main towns to the south and north of the Upper Nile fields, are still under government control, although clashes were reported in or near Melut recently.

The petroleum ministry in Juba claims that the production level at the Upper Nile fields is at 200,000 barrels per day. Production levels at Unity field before the shutdown were only 5,000 barrels per day, the ministry claims.

According to data earlier released by the ministry, production in Unity State from August to October 2013 was only a fifth the production of the Upper Nile fields, though this difference was partly a factor of damage sustained to the Unity fields during an earlier shutdown in 2012. 

File photo: Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau (Radio Tamazuj)

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