December 5, 2017 (JUBA) –
The South Sudanese ex-deputy finance minister, Mou Ambrose Thiik told Reuters prior to his removal from the ministerial post on Friday last week that the figure was equivalent to eight years worth of oil revenues for South Sudan.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to ongoing pricing disputes.
Since its independence, however, South Sudan has relied on oil for all incomes, a situation that has significantly compounded ongoing political and economic instability due to the fall in crude oil prices.
In 2012, South Sudan halted its oil production after it failed to agree with Sudan on payment for pipelines to export crude from its oilfields.
But after series of negotiations, South Sudan agreed to pay $3 billion to Khartoum following an agreement both countries signed in 2012.
South Sudan, according to the former deputy finance minister still owes Khartoum $1.3 billion of the amount agreed upon in 2012.
Meanwhile, South Sudan said on Monday that it hopes to reap from the global rise in oil prices to uplift an economy weakened by nearly four years of civil war that led to a halt in the nation’s oil production.
“The oil market is appreciating now very well the oil price is going up its 65 dollars a barrel and yet in South Sudan, it’s something we need to celebrate because our economy is driven by oil. We are going very well in the oil industry,” Petroleum minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuot told reporters in the capital, Juba.
According to the Petroleum minister, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as non-OPEC states, have agreed to continue with the oil control to stabilize the market.
Gatkuoth, however, admitted that oil production declined due to ongoing civil war, but says efforts underway to improve the output.
According to South Sudanese officials, production in the past reached as high as 350,000 bpd but fell after a dispute with Sudan over fees for pumping South Sudan’s crude through Sudan’s export pipeline, which led South Sudan to halt production in 2012.
War-torn South Sudan depends 98% on oil revenues to fund its annual budget.