South Sudan ‘to take legal action’ over ‘stolen’ oil

South Sudan, Sudan, oil, legal action, Khartoum, Juba, pipelineSouth Sudan has said that it is taking North Sudan to court over the “stealing” of its oil.South Sudan has reportedly said that it is taking the government of neighbouring north Sudan to court over what it describes as the “stealing” of its oil

The country’s oil minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, said in an interview with Sudan Tribune that his ministry had filed a lawsuit against Khartoum in “specialised international tribunals.”

“We are not leaving it just like that. The Sudanese government must return all they have stolen otherwise we are taking them to court”, Dau said without elaborating on which tribunals. The minister said that in December Khartoum started diverting more than 120,000 bpd pumped from the new nation, which took with it 75 per cent of Sudan’s oil reserves when it became independent in July 2011.

The two sides have failed to reach a new deal over transit fees, with north Sudan demanding US$36 for every barrel that passes through northern infrastructure as well as US$1bn in unpaid fees. Sudan also wants South Sudan to share part of its international debt.

Sudan’s government has said it is keeping the oil in lieu of pipeline transit fees it says are owed by landlocked South Sudan. Juba announced recently that it was stopping all oil production until its oil was returned and a "fair" fee was agreed.

Oil constitutes 98 per cent of revenues in South Sudan, but officials say it is better to keep it under the ground and sell it in the future, instead of allowing Khartoum to steal it from them. The new nation accused Khartoum of preventing ships from entering to load entitlements belonging to South Sudan and confiscating what has been loaded onto ships. Juba claims that Khartoum has stolen US$350mn worth of its oil and prevented over US$400mn of it from leaving Port Sudan.

“We have starting looking for alternative route for exporting the oil after we have reached a deadlock with Sudan, which is exaggerating in the oil transit fees,” Dau told the Sudan Tribune. "We have already started discussions about construction of a pipeline through eastern Africa, via Kenya. We expect the pipeline to be completed in 10 months. We will also begin immediately the construction of a refinery in South Sudan.”

He also disclosed that the international oil companies operating and producing oil in South Sudan are the ones that would construct the pipeline and the refinery. Sudan and South Sudan are negotiating in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, under the mediation of the African Union, to reach an agreement over oil and other issues.

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