President Salva Kiir has accused the Government of Sudan of looting oil worth approximately 815 million dollars from South Sudan since December 2011.
The President made this revelation today while briefing the National Legislative Assembly and the nation on the current oil crisis between South Sudan and Sudan.
"In total, the revenue that the Government of Sudan has looted since December amounts to approximately 815 million dollars," Kiir said.
As the President addressed the legislature, hundreds of South Sudanese marched in the streets of Juba in support of the government’s decision to shut down oil production.
The President said that Sudan government was demanding for exorbitant amounts of money from South Sudan before allowing its shipment of oil to leave Port Sudan.
“The crisis has reached a stage that is unacceptable. On 6th December 2011, the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Sudan informed our Minister of Petroleum that based on their Petroleum Transit and Service Fees Act of 2011, as from 25 December 2011, all shipments will be allowed to leave Port Sudan only after paying fees amounting to 32.2 dollars per barrel,” Kiir said
Kiir added that immediately after this warning, Sudan blocked four ships with 3.5 million barrels of Dar blend from sailing out of Port Sudan.
The President added that Sudan authorities had prevented another four ships that were to collect 2.8 million barrels of Nile and Dar blends from docking at Port Sudan.
“To date, these eight vessels remain under the control of the Government of Sudan with oil worth 630 million dollars,” the President said.
Kiir said that in addition to that, the Sudan authorities had forcibly taken another 185 million dollars worth of oil.
The President said there were no guarantees that South Sudan oil flowing through Sudan will reach its intended destination since Khartoum authorities were blocking ships and had constructed a pipeline to divert the oil.
“Furthermore, they have completed constructing a tie-in pipeline designed to permanently divert 120,000 barrels per day, which is almost 75 percent of our daily entitlements, to their refineries in Khartoum,” Kiir added.
The President said the diversion of South Sudan crude oil has disrupted revenues that are vital to the security and welfare of the people.
The President said that they cannot allow assets which belong to South Sudan to be subject to further diversion.
“Therefore, during the second Council of Ministers of 2012 meeting of January 20, we unanimously decided that all oil operations in South Sudan should be halted with immediate effect and no crude oil belonging to South Sudan shall flow through the pipelines on the territory of the Republic of Sudan,” Kiir said.
He called on all parliamentarians to support the government on the decision taken by the council of ministers.
Kiir said they reached this point after exhausting all avenues including sending envoys to Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia last week.
He added that presidents of those countries reached out to President Omar Bashir of Sudan to ask him to stop taking unilateral decisions regarding South Sudan oil.
“The response from Bashir is that he will not stop taking oil until we pay the exorbitant amount of 32 dollars per barrel,” Kiir explained.
The President said this demand by Khartoum was completely out of international norms and a precedent that they were unwilling to set.
The president instructed the minister of finance to initiate contingency plans for revenue collection and allocation.
“This will accelerate the increase in collections of non-oil revenues. The ministry of finance will look in to other options of replacing the lost revenue,” the President added.
Oil accounts for the biggest chunk of South Sudan budget and shutting down production could affect the economy adversely, but Kiir assured the people of South Sudan that all measures will be taken to ensure that any disruption is minimal.
“On existing cash reserves, rest assured that the government can operate for the immediate future, depending on which cuts are made,” he said.
He also vowed to continue with everything possible to resolve the impasse with Sudan to restore the flow of South Sudan crude oil.
The President said the crisis comes at a time when there are internal challenges, particularly the recent tribal conflict in Jonglei State.
He therefore called for collective responsibility to manage the situation with patience and perseverance.
He advised; “This is a time when we as South Sudanese need to speak with one collective void and avoid inciting statements which will further fuel the situation.”
Reacting to the President’s address, the Member of Parliament for Maridi in Western Equatoria, Bashir Gbandi, said Kiir had expressed the opinion of the people of South Sudan.
“The assembly will mobilize all people, like how it was during the liberation struggle. I urge the government to build alternative pipeline,” Gbandi said.
For the Awiel West County MP, Abuk Ngong (United Sudan African Party (USAP)) President Kiir had said the right thing at the right time.
“We do not have problems with Sudan except the practice by the leadership in stealing the oil of South Sudan. They should return what they took,” Ngong said.
She appealed to the African Union to urge Sudan to stop stealing South Sudan oil.
The President’s address was attended by MPs of the National Legislative Assembly, Council of States, ministers, presidential advisors, members of the diplomatic corps and the public.
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Friday, 7 September 2012