South Sudan Petroleum Minister announced that the country is planning to drill 30 new wells in 2017 and significantly enhance its oil output as it chases a peak 350,000b/d target by mid-2018, Reuters stated.

South Sudan, which is considered to be East Africa’s only mature oil producer, has been seeking new investment in order to develop its oil sector where output has been limited to 130,000b/d due to the local security challenges, Citizen informed.

“We are estimating by the end of the year we will reach 200,000b/d. We will make sure it reaches what it used to be,” Petroleum Minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, told journalists on the sidelines of an African oil conference in Cape Town.

The nation, which seceded from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into civil war just over two years later, aimed to double output in the financial year starting in July, the finance minister said in January.

Gatkuoth told delegates earlier that the country intended increasing its refinery capacity to supply fuel to neighboring countries, the petroleum minister said on Monday.

“We are focusing on four or five refineries so we can finally be able to sell to Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda,” he said.

Gatkuoth said the country’s first refinery, a 10,000b/d Russian-built plant in the Upper Nile region, was expected to start operating in August.

Other refineries under consideration include a 60,000b/d plant close to the Ethiopian border as well as a 50,000b/d in the oil-producing region of Paluch.