- Title: VARIOUS: Sudan denies blocking South Sudan oil as talks collapse
- Date: 1st December 2011
- Summary: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIOR OF AFRICA UNION (AU) HEADQUARTERS / FLAGS
- Embargoed: 16th December 2011 12:00
- Location: Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan
- Country: South Sudan Sudan Ethiopia
- Topics: International Relations,Politics,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVA4OL7G2O75OFD5R1WNR76F8R8Z
- Story Text: Sudan on Wednesday (November 30) denied it had halted landlocked South Sudan's oil exports in a transit fee row, but said the country had confiscated crude shipments to make up for payments it claims South Sudan owes.
South Sudan's oil minister - returning from Addis Ababa, where talks around untangling the two countries' oil industries collapsed - said at least one 1-million-barrel cargo of his country's oil was still "detained" at Port Sudan on Wednesday.
On Monday, Sudan's acting oil minister, Ali Ahmed Osman, said his country had halted South Sudan's oil exports, roughly 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), until the two sides came to an agreement on transit fees.
Sabir Mohamed Hassan, Sudan's co-chair of negotiations on economic issues, appeared to reverse that statement on Wednesday.
"They don't want to reach an agreement with us on those fees which had accumulated till it exceeded 800 million US dollars. We have to take those fees in kind besides taking amounts from south Sudan oil equal to those fees. This is what happened in the last two days. We have been forced to take what is owed to us in kind," he told reporters in Khartoum.
The Addis Ababa talks over oil and other issues collapsed on Wednesday, both sides said. Further talks are scheduled for December and January in the Sudanese and South Sudanese capitals.
Both said Sudan was proposing 36 US dollars per barrel as a transit fee - much higher than the 0.75 US dollars per barrel South Sudan has said it is ready to pay if an alternative financing package it has put forward does not work out.
Pagan Amum, South Sudan's chief negotiator rejected what he described as an attempt to "steal" the new nation's oil.
"So we have offered 2.6 billion (dollars) and we have also offered to forgive 2.8 ... this is 5.4 billion dollars that we have offered here. They have rejected it because they are bent on looting," he told reporters.
An African Union panel has since tried to help settle the row. The statement from the Sudan's negotiating panel chairman said South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki had submitted a proposal that Sudan allow exports to continue for another two months.
"The government of Sudan has decided that they would take a bit of the oil from the South that is passing through there, in order to address what they consider to be a debt that is owed to them because the south has not been paying," said Mbeki.
South Sudan split off into the world's newest nation on July 9, taking about three-quarters of the formerly united country's roughly 500,000 bpd of oil production with it.
Oil is vital to both economies, but the two sides have not yet agreed on how much South Sudan, which must send its oil through pipelines in Sudan to a Red Sea port, should pay as a transit fee.
Analysts have said the row is likely to further stoke tensions between the two old civil war foes and complicate talks in the Ethiopian capital over a raft of issues related to the secession, including debt and the position of the shared border.
South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede in a January referendum under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north. Oil was one factor behind the conflict, which killed an estimated 2 million people.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None