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'Numbers game' adds vagueness of oil deal

Updated: 2012-08-06 09:26
( Xinhua)

KHARTOUM - As soon as the oil deal between Sudan and South Sudan concluded under the African Union mediation was declared, a "numbers game" emerged and added to the vagueness of the deal.

The African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki announced Friday that Sudan and South Sudan had reached an agreement on sharing their oil resources, which would allow the resumption of South Sudan's oil export through Sudan's territories.

Local media in Sudan quoted government sources as saying that the deal stipulated that South Sudan would pay $25.8 for each barrel as fees for exporting and processing its oil through Sudan's oil infrastructures. However, South Sudan government said it would pay less than 10 dollars.

"These figures announced by Sudan are not true. The Sudan negotiating delegation might wanted to persuade the Sudanese inside that it did not waive its previous demands," Pagan Amum, South Sudan's chief negotiator, told Xinhua by phone.

Amum disclosed that South Sudan government would pay less than $10 as transit fees for exporting the south's oil through Sudan's territories. "We have agreed that South Sudan would pay 1 dollar (per barrel) as the transit fee. We have also agreed to increase the lease of the western pipeline to 8.4 dollars as it is the longest, and 6.5 dollars for the eastern pipeline, the Petro Dar pipeline," he said.

He further said that South Sudan would pay $3 billion as assistance to Sudan, which is facing an economic crisis due to losing some oil resources after the separation of South Sudan, saying that "this sum will be paid in three years and a half."

Sudan's negotiating delegation could not be immediately reached to comment on the statements of South Sudan's chief mediator.

In the meantime, former Sudanese minister of finance and economic expert, Dr. Al-Tijani Al-Tayeb, excluded that the two parties have agreed on 25 dollars as transit fees for exporting the south's oil.

"There is a vagueness in this deal, but according to the available information, the two sides have agreed on a transit fee that reaches around only 10 dollars for transporting the south's oil in addition to another 15 dollars as a revenue surplus because of Sudan's lost of its oil revenues," Al-Tayeb told Xinhua.

"South Sudan government will pay 10 dollars as oil transit fees and lease of the pipeline besides 15 dollars as compensation for Sudan for losing its oil revenues, i.e. Juba would pay 3 billion dollars to Sudan in three years and a half," he explained.

He said the Sudanese government found itself before a great deficit in its budget due to the stoppage of pumping of South Sudan's oil, pointing out that the government could utilize the revenue surplus compensation, which amounts to around 2 billion dollars, to fill in the gap in the general budget.

Al-Tayeb further excluded that the oil deal between Sudan and South Sudan would collapse, explaining that both Khartoum and Juba were in desperate need for the deal.

He added that the Sudanese government was facing a deficit in the budget, while Juba was suffering from economic problems that are evident in its budget, resources and infrastructures, noting that the implementation of the deal is awaiting the two sides to reach a clear formula regarding the security files.

In October 2011, Sudan demanded $36 per barrel as transit fees to export South Sudan's oil through Sudan's territories.

The oil dispute between Sudan and South Sudan broke out five months after the separation of the south in July 2011, when Sudan decided to deduct its oil fees arrears on the part of the south in form of crude oil.

On January 20, 2012, South Sudan announced the halt of its oil production and exportation through Sudan's territories, accusing Khartoum of stealing about 1.4 million barrels of its oil at the Bashair harbor in eastern Sudan.

While most of the oil wells are in the south, the pipelines and ports to export the oil are in the north.

In addition to the oil dispute, there are many outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan, including the border demarcation.

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