Resumption of Southern oil exportation, can it be delayed by technical problems?

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)


KHARTOUM, ( - while Khartoum and Juba are preparing for resumption of pumping South Sudan oil for exportation via the facilities and pipelines of the Sudan, there arise some technical obstacles that may postpone the operation for a few months. 

A number of officials and experts are of the viewpoint that the production and flow of the Southern crude through the Sudanese pipelines will be resumed after the three months’ period set by the two parties in the joint cooperation agreement they signed by presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit on September 27 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for technical problems in the pipeline which were caused by the abrupt suspension of pumping the crude.

The new state of South Sudan is landlocked and has no option other than exporting its petroleum through Sudanese pipelines and seaports.

Dr. Awad Ahmed al-Jazz, the Sudanese Oil Minister, has recently called upon the oil companies operating in Sudan to prepare the petroleum facilities in the Sudan for passage of the South Sudanese petroleum across Sudanese territories, in coordination with South Sudan on the technical arrangements.

For its part, the Government of South Sudan has notified the oil companies operating there to get ready for the pumping operations.

However, the Deputy Minister of Petroleum in South Sudan, Ms. Elizabeth James Pol, does not rule out a further delay of several months. “It is certain there are some technical problems that may delay the operation for several months,” she said.

“We have instructed the oil companies operating in South Sudan to prepare a plan for resumption of pumping the oil and we are waiting for the viewpoint of those companies; but technical reports we have received indicate that the petroleum production could be resumed in six to nine months,” Pol added.

Responsible officials and experts attribute the technical difficulties to the sudden suspension of operations of pumping the crude from the wells and through the pipeline.

The Government of Juba last January ordered stoppage of production and pumping of its oil that totals 350,000 bpd after failure of reaching agreement with Khartoum on the transit fees, thus affecting the economies of both countries. However, the recent cooperation agreement has provided for resumption of pumping and transport of the South Sudanese oil through Sudanese pipelines at a rate of 11 dollars per barrel.

Independent petroleum expert Yassir Abbas opines that, contrary to what has the former Sudanese oil minister, the handling and preparation of the pipeline for receiving the oil from South Sudan require a period of more than a month.

“The length and diameter of the pipeline indicate that the preparation of the pipe needs about 3500 barrels of crude oil to substitute the chemical water that exists in the pipe,” Abbas said.

The abrupt suspension has lowered the competence of the pipeline and has adversely affected the wells, he said. It is likely that resumption of pumping the petroleum from the wells will start with fewer quantities and, at best, it will be 50% of the quantities previously produced, the independent expert predicted.

“I don’t believe all the oil wells in South Sudan, which are more than 50 in number, will start product simultaneously and, for this reason, it is likely that the pumped oil will be fewer than the quantity required for treating the pipeline,” Abbas added.

He said resumption of transporting the South Sudanese oil through the Sudanese pipelines requires maintenance of the central processing stations, which have also been affected by the suspension.

In contrast, former Minister of State in the Sudanese Ministr4y of petroleum Ishaq Bashir Jama’a played down the impact of the suspension on the pipeline.

“The government of the Sudan, immediately upon the suspension, removed the existing crude and replaced it with chemically treated water and this process has retained the efficiency of the pipeline,” Jama’a said.  

“Reoperation of the pipeline will not require complex technical processes; what is needed is only to pump out the chemically treated water and substitute it with the crude, as no technical damage has occurred on the pipeline,” he added.

“The pipeline has been design in a way that it will not be affected by an abrupt stoppage resulting from operational failures or any other reason,” the former Minister of State for Petroleum said.

The technical preparation centers of the Government of the Sudan have actually begun preparation of the pipeline and the resumption will not take more than a month, at latest, he added.

The pipeline is about 1,600 kilometers long with a diameter of 32 inches. It crosses seven Sudanese states before reaching Port Sudan on the Reds Sea.


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