South Sudan oil shutdown leads to massive job losses

Posted: March 2, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan
Tags: , ,

For Mr Gatwec Lul, this year simply started on the wrong footing. Three days after a grinding mill he used to supplement his income broke down; he was notified that his job at the oilfields in Unity state had become redundant.

Gatwec, 42, said he worked in Tharjath as a manual labourer, assisting technicians to move equipment; a job that has supported his six-member family since 2006. With the shutdown in South Sudan’s oil production, Gatwec says the future looks bleak. “It will be too difficult. Where can I begin without the job?”

Gatwec stays at Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, where about 40 per cent of South Sudan oil exports were being produced before the shutdown. He was relieved of his job alongside over 100 other Sudanese working in the fields.
“There is nothing for them to do because the shutdown is complete,” said Mr William Garjuang, Unity State’s minister for Environment.

“A few remained to take care of companies’ properties,” the minister said.
In Palaug oilfields in Upper Nile state, where oil giant Petrodar holds concessions that were producing over 60 per cent of South Sudan’s oil, James Buoth fears that he could soon be sent packing. He works as a cleaner in Palaug centre. It is from this job that Buoth, 38, raises money to feed his 11–member extended family.

“My worry is there may not be work for me in a few days and I have no papers,” Buoth said.
“It’s my prayer that Sudan agrees with our government. It will also be good if (work on) our pipeline can start quickly so that I keep my work,” he said.

In Palaug, the total man power is 3,000 people, according to the Field Operations manager, Bakheit Mahmoud. Out of this, 2,000 work for Petrodar and 1,000 work for associated oil drilling and service companies.

Petrodar employees are shared between Sudan and the South. For the drilling and oil service companies, the workers include different nationalities ranging from Chinese to South Africans.

Most of the South Sudanese workers are “normal labourers” while some are engineers, technicians and operators.

Following the shutdown, a significant number of the employees, both local and foreign, are at risk of losing their jobs. But unlike in Unity state, where Sudanese employees have already evacuated, a decision is yet to be made by Petrodar and the government over whether the workers should leave.

“The decision is not for Petrodar. The decision will be made jointly by Petrodar and the ministry of Petroleum and Mining — how to live in the field, give them medication,” Bakheit said.

South Sudan decided to shut down oil production last month, protesting alleged oil theft and diversion by Khartoum at Port Sudan.

Juba says Khartoum has “stolen” oil worth over $815 million since December. Khartoum admits confiscating the oil, but argues that it was paying itself in kind for previous shipments that it claims South Sudan had not paid.

Letters exchanged between oil companies and South Sudan on one hand and the government of Sudan on the other, show that Juba has been paying transit fees of between $7.4 and $5.5 per barrel.

South Sudanese officials have sought to downplay the risk of losing jobs.
“They should not actually panic,” Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the head of mission to the United States, said. “We are taking necessary steps to make sure that everybody is well off,” he said, referring to plans to attract investment companies — which he said would employ locals — into the country.

Returnee train departs Sudan capital for south
Contra Costa Times
By MOHAMED OSMAN AP KHARTOUM, Sudan—A 60-car train carrying 1400 southern Sudanesestranded in the north by their homeland’s declaration of independence has left Khartoum for thesouth, the International Organization for Migration said Friday.

South Sudan oil shutdown leads to massive job losses
Daily Monitor
With the shutdown in South Sudan’s oil production, Gatwec says the future looks bleak. “It will be too difficult. Where can I begin without the job?” Gatwec stays at Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, where about 40 per cent of South Sudan oil exports
South Sudan army hold 9 MPs hostage
Daily Monitor
By FELIX WAROM OKELLO (email the author) The South Sudan authorities are claiming land 15Kms into Uganda. Presidents Salva Kiir and Museveni agreed to set up a commission to resolve the dispute. Nine Members of Parliament were on Thursday afternoon 
ICC Issues Warrant for Sudan Government Official
Yahoo! Contributors Network
On the same day a Sudanese defense minister was accused of atrocities in Darfur, the US State Department decried Sudan and South Sudan border violence. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has accused Sudan’s president of trying to kill 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s