Sudan says taking some S.Sudan oil but won't close pipe
Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:29pm GMT
(Adds U.S. saying Sudan's moves increase tensions)
By Ulf Laessing and Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM Jan 15 (Reuters) - Sudan said on Sunday it has started confiscating
some oil exports from South Sudan that it believes it is owed to meet unpaid
transit fees but will not shut down a pipeline carrying the southern state's
The United States said Sudan's move added to tensions with South Sudan,
which became independent in July under a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that
ended decades of civil war. North and South Sudan have failed to sort out a
long list of disputes.
The biggest conflict is over oil revenues - the lifeline of both economies.
Land-locked South Sudan has two thirds of the former unified Sudan's oil
output but needs to pay fees to use northern export facilities.
The two countries have failed to agree on a transit fee but will resume on
Tuesday talks sponsored by the African Union in Ethiopia. Previous rounds
ended with the parties wide apart.
Sudan has started confiscating southern oil to compensate for Juba's failure
to pay a fee to use Khartoum's pipeline and the Red Sea port of Port Sudan,
members of the northern delegation for the talks in Addis Ababa said.
South Sudan pumps around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd), officials have said.
Sudan produces 115,000 bpd in its remaining fields but needs it for domestic
"Since early December we've started taking part of our share after the
southern government refused to agree on a deal for a transit fee," Saber
Mohammed Hassan, a member of the delegation, told reporters.
He said Khartoum was now demanding a pipeline fee of $36 a barrel, up from
an initial demand of $32. Analysts have said Sudan's demands were 10 times
in excess of international norms usually based on a per-mile basis.
Delegation member Zubair Ahmed Hassan added Khartoum was taking some
southern oil to use for northern refineries but gave no volumes.
South Sudan has accused Khartoum of blocking oil exports of 3.4 million
barrels in Port Sudan and asking foreign oil firms to divert some oil to
refineries in Khartoum and El-Obeid.
In a second demand, Khartoum wants Juba to pay a total of $1 billion for
transit fees since July, said deputy central bank governor Badr el-Din
Mahmoud, another delegate.
He said South Sudan also owed Khartoum another $6 billion in debt. "The
South has sent us a letter demanding $5 billion but this amount is not
correct. We actually demand from the South $6 billion," he said.
Sudan's government is under pressure to overcome a severe economic crisis
after losing the southern oil, which made up 90 percent of the country's
exports. It generated $5 billion in oil revenues in 2010.
"The national economy cannot do without oil," said Idris Mohamed
Abdul-Qadir, head of Khartoum's delegation.
South Sudan has refused to shoulder Sudan's foreign debt pile of almost $40
billion, which has been a burden for the economy for many years in addition
to a U.S. trade embargo deterring most Western firms.
The United States said Khartoum's action was fueling tensions with Juba.
"We are greatly concerned by recent Sudanese public threats and unilateral
actions that impede the flow of oil from South Sudan, jeopardize the
viability of the oil sector and increase tensions," the U.S. embassy in
Khartoum said in a statement.
It said Juba should pay a "fair price" based on international norms and
negotiate then a separate agreement to ease the impact of loss of southern
oil on Sudan.
NO COMPROMISE IN SIGHT
South Sudan has accused Khartoum of "stealing" its oil exports at the
northern port of Port Sudan by ordering its security services to oversee the
loading of 650,000 barrels of southern oil worth $65 million on a Sudanese
"The government of Sudan has chosen to steal this oil in broad daylight just
days before its own proposed commercial oil negotiations with the Republic
of South Sudan," South Sudan's oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said in a
statement on Saturday.
He said the oil pipeline would be closed within days since storage capacity
was filling up in Port Sudan but Azhari Abdalla, director-general of Sudan's
Oil Exploration and Production Administration, dismissed this.
"What I can confirm from our side is we will not close any line. It will
stay open. You can take this for granted," he told Reuters.
South Sudan's top negotiator Pagan Amum said on Sunday oil companies had
sent a letter to Khartoum verifying that South Sudan has paid for the use of
oil infrastructure in Sudan since July.
"This letter makes it clear that the government of Sudan has no basis to
demand any payment from the government of South Sudan because it has been
paying and we cannot pay twice," Amum told reporters in the southern capital
But northern delegate Zubair said since Sudan owned the pipeline it needed
to be paid directly by Juba, not via companies.
Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, a London-based Sudan analyst at consultancy Control
Risks, said differences between north and south were "irreconcilable."
"Without an agreement the two countries remain engaged in a stand-off in
which unilateral decisions lead to new political realities ... on the
ground. The risks of a gradual descent into renewed all-out conflict are
real," he said in a note. (Additional reporting by Hereward Holland in Juba;
Editing by Greg Mahlich and Dale Hudson)
* Somali authorities find remains in captured town
By Feisal Omar and Omar Faruk
MOGADISHU, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Kenyan jets bombed an al Shabaab rebel base in
southern Somalia on Sunday, killing a family of seven as well as seven
fighters from the insurgent group linked to al Qaeda, residents said.
Kenya sent troops into anarchic Somalia in October after raids and
kidnappings it blamed on al Shabaab, but the advance has slowed and regional
insecurity is no better. Somali rebels killed seven people in an attack
inside Kenya last week.
The jets bombed an al Shabaab base at Jilib, 120 km (75 miles) north of
Kismayu, the port city which is the nerve-centre of rebel operations in the
Horn of Africa country.
Residents and an al Shabaab spokesman said seven fighters were killed. Five
children and their parents died when a bomb hit their home as they were
sitting down to lunch.
"We are now collecting what is left of their bodies," Sultun Abdullahi Wayo
Arag, a clan leader and close relative told Reuters by phone from the scene
of the strike.
A spokesman for the Western-backed Somali government's army, Mahmud Farah,
said two al Shabaab bases had been targeted by their Kenyan allies. He
acknowledged some civilian deaths.
There was no immediate comment from Kenya's army, which said on Saturday it
had advanced within striking distance of Kismayu, and would make its move
when the time was right.
Kenyan forces pushed into Somalia after raids that threatened the tourism
industry in East Africa's biggest economy and wider regional
destabilisation. Kenya's army reckons as many as 500 Kenyans are fighting
with al Shabaab.
Neighbouring Ethiopia has also sent troops into Somalia to back its shaky
government, which holds the capital Mogadishu with the help of an African
Union peacekeeping force.
In Beledweyne, a town near the Ethiopian border which was captured by the
Ethiopians about two weeks ago, a Somali official said police had found the
remains of up to 40 people killed over the past year.
"We must liberate the rest of the country as quickly as possible, before we
witness even more and much worse insanity from al Shabaab," said deputy
information minister Abdullahi Bile Noor.
Government forces and rebels said an al Shabaab fighter hurled a hand
grenade at an Ethiopian camp in Beledweyne late on Saturday. A soldier said
there were no casualties. Al Shabaab said the attack killed an Ethiopian
soldier. (Additional reporting by Sahra Abdi in Nairobi, Abdi Sheikh in
Mogadishu; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Sun Jan 15 2012 - 15:33:27 EST