Sudan-South Sudan Oil Dispute
Strafor – 21/02/2012
The South Sudanese government on Jan. 22 ordered the halt of all oil production in the country reportedly due to the ongoing disagreement between South Sudan and Sudan over revenues from oil originating in the south but exported via Sudan. In response to the shutdown, Sudanese forces seized control over two oil blocks in South Sudan’s northeastern state of Upper Nile on Feb. 13, according to the government in Juba. South Sudan has six producing oil blocks that total about 350,000 barrels per day, divided into two groups based on their geographic locations. Blocks 1, 2, 4 and 5A, located near the western border oil terminal city of Abyei — which still has not yet determined whether it will be part of Sudan or South Sudan — produce Nile blend oil. Blocks 3 and 7, the two now allegedly seized by Sudan, produce the more valuable Dar blend. All of this oil is exported to the north via two pipelines that meet in Khartoum. The south has neither the military strength nor political capital to challenge Sudan’s seizure of its wells, but Khartoum is unlikely to attempt to capture the oil blocks south of Abyei. Aside from having a currently more valuable oil blend, the location of blocks 3 and 7 in Upper Nile state — which borders Sudan on three sides — is geographically easy to access for Sudanese forces. These forces would face increased opposition, including from U.N. peacekeepers, if they attempted to seize the other blocks.