Archive for February 14, 2012

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir gives a press statement on his reasons for rejecting an African Union proposal to resolve its oil crisis with its northern neighbor, in Juba Feb. 2, 2012. (Reuters)

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir gives a press statement on his reasons for rejecting an African Union proposal to resolve its oil crisis with its northern neighbor, in Juba Feb. 2, 2012. (Reuters)

By Aaron Maasho

Feb 14 (Reuters) – Sudan has confiscated 2.4 million barrels of South Sudan’s oil, bringing the total volume of crude Khartoum has seized in a row over oil transit fees to more than 6 million barrels since December, a South Sudanese official said on Tuesday.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. The new nation took with it about three quarters of the country’s oil output but must still pipe crude through Sudan to the Red Sea terminal at Port Sudan to export it.

The two sides have failed to agree how much the South should pay to do this, and Khartoum has started taking southern oil to make up for what it says are unpaid fees.

“Yesterday (Monday) we have been informed that the government of Sudan has again stolen 2.4 million barrels of our best quality crude oil,” South Sudan’s chief negotiator, Pagan Amum, said.

South Sudan last month shut down its roughly 350,000 barrels per day of oil production. Amum did not specify where and how Sudan was able to seize the additional 2.4 million barrels, but Sudanese officials previously said there was oil left in the pipeline even after the shutdown and that Khartoum would continue to confiscate what it considered its fair share until the two sides reached a deal.

They met on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, but the talks finished again without resolving the dispute.

Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment on the accusation.

Amum said Sudan had released two vessels that had been waiting to load South Sudanese crude at Port Sudan but another six had arrived. Eight in total are now prevented from entering the port, he said.

“Six vessels were ready to come and load oil that they already bought, but they are not allowed to come to Port Sudan,” he said. “These companies are not coming because they have been informed that the oil they bought from South Sudan has been stolen by the government of Sudan.”


South Sudan claims Khartoum has “illegally loaded” more than 6 million barrels of its oil since late last year.

This included 1.2 million barrels taken in December, four shipments totaling roughly 2.5 million barrels in January and another 2.4 million barrels reported this month, according to figures provided to Reuters by South Sudan’s negotiating team in Addis Ababa.

Correspondence between oil firms and government officials, which South Sudan provided to reporters this month, confirmed that four January cargoes were loaded, but the other seizures could not be independently verified.

Industry sources have said Sudan has sold at least one cargo of confiscated oil is offering more. South Sudan’s negotiators did not specify how much of the other crude was intended for use in domestic refineries and how much was meant to be exported.

Sudanese officials have said the country is entitled to a share of the oil because South Sudan has refused to pay the related fees since it seceded, fuelling inflation and a foreign currency shortage in the northern country. (Writing and additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz in Khartoum; Editing by Jane Baird)

Map of Sudan and South Sudan

Photo: VOA
Map of Sudan and South Sudan
South Sudan: Khartoum Violates Non-Aggression Pact

Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

South Sudan is accusing neighboring Sudan of bombing southern targets, days after the two sides signed a non-aggression deal. The allegation threatens already troubled talks on sharing oil revenues.

South Sudan’s chief negotiator at the African Union-mediated talks, Pagan Amum, said Sudanese jets bombed an area in the south’s Unity state, not far from the two countries’ disputed border. He gave few details, saying word of the attack had just been received.

The bombing, if confirmed, would be the first violation of a non-aggression agreement signed Friday at the beginning of a round of talks on oil and other contentious issues. Amum accused Khartoum of continuing its attempts to destabilize the border.

“That is a bad sign that the government of Sudan is not serious to non-aggression, but we expressed our hope the government of Sudan would now end its attacks on South Sudan, particularly areas of bombardment,” said Amum.

Speaking to reporters, Amum said the south is continuing to take a tough line on the main issue in the six days of talks – sharing oil revenues. He said any decision to reopen the pipeline that carries southern oil to international markets would only come after Khartoum pays for oil it took from the pipeline while the payments dispute raged last month.

“There is no way for us to resume unless the government of Sudan pays the south the market value of all the oil they have stolen, which is in excess of $500 million. We cannot export our oil if it is not secure and safe, if the government of Sudan are practicing state piracy. It would be dangerous for us to send even one barrel, not millions,” said Amum.

South Sudan took the bulk of Sudanese oil when it became independent last year, but the oil must pass through the north to reach Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Khartoum’s negotiators did not speak to reporters as they left the African Union headquarters, where the two sides briefed the AU Peace and Security Council.

The talks, mediated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, are expected to carry on through at least Wednesday, but diplomats close to the negotiations say they may be extended if there is any sign of a deal that might open the oil pipeline.

Experts say the pipeline shutdown is costing both countries hundreds of millions of dollars a month in lost revenues.

Sudanese air strike hits S Sudan, breaking pact: army

(AFP) –   

JUBA — Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs wounding four soldiers in a contested area claimed by South Sudan, breaking a fresh non-aggression pact between the two sides, Juba’s army spokesman said Tuesday.

“Sudanese Armed Forces airplanes bombed the Jau area in Unity state on Sunday, wounding four of our soldiers,” South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP.

South Sudan — which declared independence from former civil war enemies in north Sudan in July — has accused Khartoum of carrying out several bombing raids in frontier regions of its territory, claims denied by the northern army.

The bombings took place in oil-rich areas along the disputed border with the rump state of Sudan, which both sides claim as theirs. The Jau area has seen several bombings in recent months as well as fighting between the two sides.

“There were several bombs launched from Antonov aircraft,” Aguer said.

The region borders Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state where rebels — once part of the ex-guerrilla turned official South Sudanese army — are battling the Khartoum government forces.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a non-aggression pact late Friday over the disputed border in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a move praised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

However, Aguer said the latest bombings showed the deal had not been taken seriously by Khartoum.

“Nothing has changed, it is business as usual for them,” Aguer said.

Gideon Gatpan, minister of information for Unity state, confirmed there had been “several bombings” on Sunday in the Jau area.

According to the pact, the two sides agreed to “respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and to “refrain from launching any attack, including bombardment.”

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July, becoming the world’s newest nation.

South Sudan took three quarters of Sudan’s oil when it gained independence, but all pipeline and export facilities are controlled by the north.

Last month, the South halted oil production — accounting for 98 percent of government revenue — after Juba accused Khartoum of stealing $815 million worth of crude oil.

The latest round of talks between Khartoum and Juba continue in Addis Ababa to resolve the furious oil crisis.

The UN chief last week warned that tensions between the two nations could escalate if outstanding issues are not resolved.

However, the South has demanded that a deal includes settlement on the undemarcated border, parts of which cut through oil fields, as well on Abyei, a Lebanon-sized region claimed by both sides but occupied by northern troops.

At least 105,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into South Sudan since fighting erupted in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile last year, after Khartoum moved to assert its authority in the wake of southern secession.

The refugees are adding to the woes of the grossly impoverished South, which is reeling from internal crises including a wave of bloody ethnic violence, rebel attacks and severe food shortages.

In addition, Juba is struggling to support over 364,000 people who have returned to their homeland since October 2010 from the north, where they fled during the war.

An estimated 700,000 ethnic southerners remain in north Sudan, where aid officials are increasingly concerned for their future, with an April 8 deadline approaching for them to either register or leave Sudan.

South Sudan Accuses Sudan of Air Attack

Posted Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 

South Sudan has accused Sudan of carrying out airstrikes on a disputed border town, just two days after the neighboring countries signed a non-aggression pact.

Authorities in South Sudan say Russian-made Antonov jets dropped several bombs on the town of Jau on Sunday, wounding at least four people.

South Sudan claims Jau is located inside its Unity state, while Sudan puts the town inside its own state of Southern Kordofan.

Disputes over borders and oil have raised tension between the two Sudans, and leaders on both sides have suggested the countries could go to war.

On Friday, an African Union mediation team persuaded the two Sudans to sign a non-aggression pact. The countries have accused each other of supporting the other’s rebels, and the south says the north has bombed its territory on several occasions.

The AU is hosting talks in Addis Ababa aimed at settling the dispute over oil revenues, the biggest source of income for both countries.

South Sudan took 75 percent of Sudan’s oil when it declared independence in July. But the landlocked south must rely on pipelines that run north to an export facility at Port Sudan.

The two sides are embroiled in a battle over how much money South Sudan should pay to use the pipelines and Sudan’s export facilities.

The dispute prompted Khartoum to seize South Sudan’s oil at Port Sudan. South Sudan responded by shutting down all oil production.

South Sudan Oil Dispute Raises Specter of War

Gabe Joselow | Juba, South Sudan

South Sudan and Sudan have been engaged in a war of words since the south stopped pumping oil to the north in a dispute about pricing. Both sides have warned that a return to violence is a possibility.South Sudan is retooling its armed forces – working to strengthen the former rebel Southern People’s Liberation Army into a more formal military.

Soldiers here at the Bilpam military base in Juba could be called into battle sooner than expected, if a bitter oil dispute with Sudan turns from a war of words into action.

The south shut off oil flows to the north, claiming Sudan has stolen millions of dollars worth of crude. Khartoum says it confiscated the oil to compensate for unpaid transit fees.

South Sudanese Deputy Defense Minister Major Majak D’Agoot said such actions represent a serious threat to the new nation.

“I don’t want to pinpoint it to any particular source, but anything that tends to threaten our core interests as a nation of course will have to be responded to,” said D’Agoot.

Although Major D’Agoot did not specifically say Sudan was the primary threat to South Sudan, outside his office a statue of former SPLA General John Garang points firmly toward the north.

Amanda Hsiao of the Enough Project says the oil shutdown also could provoke Sudan to take action.

“With the South saying that, one: they’re willing to break of relations completely with the North; two: that they will seek alternative pipelines so that their oil doesn’t have to flow to the north, Khartoum is left with very little options in terms of dealing with its economic situation. Remember it’s a regime that has few friends in the international community,” said Hsiao.

South Sudan declared independence from the North last July, following decades of civil war that killed more than one million people.

Sporadic fighting has continued. In the past year, Sudan has bombed areas near the border where it suspects Southern-backed militias to be active, including an attack on Abyei in May of last year that displaced up to 100,000 people.

The leaders of both nations have said a return to war is a possibility.

On the streets of Juba, a rapidly developing capital, businessmen are nervous about the prospect of violence.

Michael Toma sells automotive supplies at the Jebel market.

“In my own opinion, I for one think war – I don’t want to rule out war because war is inevitable. However, I’d like to ask the two authorities to work together and come into dialogue so we can reach a harmonious conclusion that’s going to benefit either country,” said Toma.

Others, like Simon Gatdier Yieh, say if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir wants war, he will get it.

“If the Bashir came with the peace then our president will talk to the Bashir in a peaceful manner. If the Bashir wants to fight with the people of South Sudan we are ready, even now we are ready,” said Yieh.

Both countries are dependent on South Sudanese oil and, as a prolonged shutdown continues to drain their two economies, tensions are bound to increase.

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Rick Santorum and Christians in Peril
Huffington Post (blog)
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South Sudan officials welcome Israel’s Spacecom
IT News Africa
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South Sudan Accuses Sudan of Air Attack
Voice of America (blog)
South Sudan has accused Sudan of carrying out airstrikes on a disputed border town, just two days after the neighboring countries signed a non-aggression pact. Authorities in South Sudan say Russian-made Antonov jets dropped several bombs on the town 
South Sudan Oil Dispute Raises Specter of War
Voice of America
February 14, 2012 South Sudan Oil Dispute Raises Specter of War Gabe Joselow | Juba, South Sudan South Sudan and Sudan have been engaged in a war of words since the south stopped pumping oil to the north in a dispute about pricing…
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Obama’s 2013 Budget Includes $2.4 Billion in Possible Debt Relief to Sudan
The Sudanese government has been intensively pressing the international community to have its external debt canceled as a reward for letting South Sudan secede peacefully last July after recognizing the referendum results conducted in early 2011…
South Sudan’s inflation drops to 48%
Sudan Tribune
By Julius N. Uma February 13, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s inflation, which in December of last year stood at a whopping 65.6% dropped to 47.8% in January, the country’s national bureau of statistics said in its latest report…
Sudanese air strike hits South Sudan, breaking pact
JUBA, South Sudan — Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs wounding four soldiers in a contested area claimed by South Sudan, two days after agreeing to a non-aggression pact, Juba’s military spokesman said Tuesday. “Sudanese Armed Forces airplanes