The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir accused the Sudanese government of stealing his country’s oil in a new sign of escalation between the two ex-foes.
In his New Year message to the people of South Sudan, Kiir said that Sudan taking the oil of South Sudan without any permission but provided no details.
Kiir described this as “looting in a broad day light” in his message published on the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) website.
A source close to GoSS told Sudan Tribune said that Khartoum stole 1.2 million barrels of oil from the pipelines and diverted it to refineries of al-Obeid in North Kordofan and al-Gailey in north Khartoum.
South Sudan may soon take the decision to stop pumping oil, the source added.
The two neighboring nations are set to enter a new round of negotiations this month on oil.
The new round of talks is hoped to bring both sides closer to a settlement to their long-standing dispute over the fees ought to be paid by the landlocked South Sudan for the use of pipelines owned by Sudan that transports oil to export terminals in the coastal city of Port Sudan.
The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki has tabled proposals that were rejected by both sides.
AUHIP’s -proposed compromise was for Juba to pay Khartoum an annual percentage of its oil exports have failed as Sudan rejected the Juba’s offer of US$5.4 billion offer and demanded US$7.4 billion.
Sudan is desperate for an accord to be sealed with its southern neighbor as it undergoes a severe economic crisis after losing 75% of the oil reserves with the south’s secession last July.
Kiir said that his country “had made substantial offers that would improve the economic and financial gaps of the Republic of Sudan in the spirit of Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to ensure mutual viability of the two states as a good gesture”.
He warned Khartoum that its “hostile attitude” should stop adding that Juba will continue with its diplomatic avenues to address the outstanding issues between the two nations.
The two countries have recently exchanged accusations on support to rebels fighting the respective governments. Sudan has lodged three complaints with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against South Sudan in this regard.
China which has the largest stake in South Sudan’s oil urged both countries to settle their disagreements through negotiations while cautioning Khartoum against disrupting the flow of oil as it has threatened before.
Sudan has also warned that it will take a portion of the oil pumped by the south as a form of payment if negotiations fail.