UN, AU call for urgent summit between Bashir and Kiir
Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:47pm GMT
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, March 29 (Reuters) - The United Nations and the African Union
on Thursday urged the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to convene for talks
as soon as possible after two days of clashes between the neighbours
threatened a relapse into a full-scale war.
South Sudan pulled troops out of Sudan's oil-producing Heglig area on
Wednesday after it accused Khartoum of bombing major oil fields and other
areas on its side of the border.
Sudan denied the air raids but said South Sudanese troops started the
fighting by attacking Heglig, one of the major oilfields left on the
Sudanese side of the border.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir suspended plans to visit South Sudan
on April 3 due to the violence, the worst seen since South Sudan declared
independence from Sudan in July last year, taking most of the known crude
reserves with it.
"There is a general call and support for the summit to take place as soon as
possible, if not as scheduled," said Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union's
Commissioner for Peace and Security.
"Everybody acknowledged the decisive importance of the two leaders getting
together under the current circumstances," he told journalists following a
meeting attended by U.N. officials and the deputy foreign ministers of both
This week's fighting was fuelled by a row over the shared border, the
ownership of disputed territories, and how much the landlocked south should
pay to transport its oil through Sudan.
Talks on security issues resumed in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and will be
followed by negotiations on oil and other issues, members of an AU panel
mediating the talks told Reuters.
Despite signing a non-aggression pact and other deals on citizenship and the
demarcation of the border, there is little sign the two sides are willing to
make concessions on oil.
South Sudan has shut down its production of 350,000 barrels per day to stop
Sudan taking oil for what it calls unpaid fees. Much of the oil is exported
(Reuters) - South Sudan may reconsider a scrapped contract with Glencore for
crude marketing and other services if the oil trading major agrees to revise
terms seen as unfavourable to the African producer, an oil official said on
The newly-independent country is also studying an offer from an Asian
government to give it a loan backed by crude oil to help weather a
production shutdown in a row with Sudan over oil payments, Deputy Minister
for Petroleum Elizabeth James Bol told Reuters.
This week's border fighting between the two former civil war foes has not
damaged the country's oil facilities, she said, adding it could take up to
nine months to bring production back to old levels once Juba decides to
Bol said the nation was open to reviewing a Glencore venture with state oil
firm Nilepet to market crude and develop South Sudan's oil industry, in
doubt since shortly after it was signed on the eve of the country's
secession in July.
"We know the previous contract that was signed, it was not signed during our
time, it was signed during the time of the former minister for petroleum,"
she said in an interview.
"If they (Glencore) came again, we will review it. Because they know they
have some terms that South Sudan will not agree with," she said, declining
to say which terms she meant.
The central African country is also considering inviting another firm to
help develop French firm Total's roughly 120,000 square kilometer block.
"We want to review the contract that was signed with them (Total). We want
to sign another transitional agreement with them to review the contract in
terms of the size of the blocks because Total is one of the largest blocks,"
"If there is a way to reduce the blocks, let us do it and invite other
investors and let them compete with them in terms of technology, even for
quick exploration of oil."
That could mean giving out a 20 percent stake in the block once owned by
Marathon Corp, which pulled out during the civil war, she said, adding South
Sudan had received "many" applications from international firms for the
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a peace deal that ended decades
of civil war. It took about three quarters of the country's oil output but
must export crude using pipelines, a Red Sea port and other facilities in
Sudan. The two have been wrangling over how much it should pay to do this.
NO DAMAGE TO OIL FACILITIES
In January, South Sudan shut down its roughly 350,000 barrels per day of oil
output after Khartoum started taking some oil to compensate for what it
called unpaid fees.
Bol said it would take between six to nine months to return to previous
output levels once a decision was made to restart. Recent border fighting
with Sudan and alleged aerial bombardment since Monday has not damaged
southern oil facilities, she said.
South Sudan - which counted on oil for some 98 of state revenues - is
looking to secure $1 billion to help cover expenses for the next year, she
Officials were meeting with commercial banks such as Kenya Commercial Bank,
Ivory Bank and Equity Bank to help arrange loans, she said. An "Asian
government" had also offered to make a loan against the country's crude oil,
"It's government to government, but our fear is that we want to know the
policies between the two governments in terms of how to refund it, in terms
of the guarantee because we can not have the crude oil on a loan basis
without guarantee," Bol said.
A petroleum bill laying out rules for the sector should be enacted next
month to encourage investors, she said.
"The chairperson of the committee told me that maybe next week it will be
enacted in the parliament," Bol said. "So by the next month, the legal
framework will be ready."
She also reiterated previous warnings that trading house Trafigura could be
barred from doing business with the country if it is proven it bought oil
from Sudan knowing it was "stolen" in a dispute over oil payments.
"They know that this crude oil is entitlement for the Republic of South
Sudan," she said. "They violated even the international rules."
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Received on Thu Mar 29 2012 - 16:33:07 EDT