South Sudan expects its first refinery to be up and running in ten months time, the Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Stephen Dhieu, has announced.
“We have constructed with the help of investors one refinery in Unity and one in Upper Nile state to meet our local consumption. By June next year we will have refined products for local consumption” Dhieu told reporters at a press briefing in Juba on Thursday.
He said the first refinery will produce 11,000 barrels a day while the second will produce an additional 9,000 barrels per day.
An estimated 9,000 barrels of refined fuel will be reserved for the Ministry of Energy and Dams to generate electricity to the cities and villages, he added.
Dhieu explained that the construction of the refineries will not affect the construction of the pipeline project.
He explained that the ministry will finalise the feasibility study in six months time and then decide on whether to use the Kenya-Lamu or the Ethiopia-Djibouti pipeline.
Contrary to earlier predictions, the Government did not give a timeline for the resumption of oil production, saying the oil deal had not yet been signed.
“Because we have agreed, we are confident that oil production will resume. The internal arrangement and technical arrangements are taking place but there is no timeline for production yet,” Dhieu said.
He added that once a deal is signed, resumption of production in Upper Nile will take at least four months.
Getting crude flowing again from the Unity oilfields, however, may take up to a year. He explained that the facilities needed repairs and renovation after they were damaged during border fighting with Sudan earlier this year.
Sudan last month said oil production can only resume after there is an agreement on border security.
In that respect, the US has urged Sudan to accept the map presented by the African Union as a basis for establishing a demilitarized buffer zone.
"Once that is accepted, we can move ahead on the other elements of demilitarization. So that is the first priority. And Khartoum must come around to accepting the map,” said Princeton Lyman, the US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
He also called for humanitarian access and a cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
"If we can get progress toward those in the next few weeks, then the oil agreement can go forward and be implemented with some confidence," Lyman said.
Talks in Addis Ababa, led by the African Union, were due to resume in late August but were postponed, first because of the Muslim Eid holiday and then because of the funeral of Ethiopia's prime minister.
Delegates from both sides are now due to arrive in Addis Ababa on Monday for negotiations to start the following day.
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Friday, 7 September 2012