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S Sudan inching closer to own oil pipeline

Feb. 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM

JUBA, South Sudan, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- South Sudan's energy minister said the government was in talks with major energy companies and neighboring governments on oil pipeline options.

South Sudan last year curtailed oil production following transit fee disputes with Sudan. South Sudan's independence in 2011 gave it control over substantial oil wealth but left it with few export options.

South Sudanese Energy Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told the independent Sudan Tribune that several oil pipeline options for Red Sea ports were under consideration.

Juba is in "talks with companies and governments who have expressed readiness to finance the construction of the alternative pipeline," he said.

The Sudanese newspaper reports that, despite a lack of a formal route plan, construction on an oil pipeline for South Sudan could begin as early as October.

"We have already reached an understanding with some international companies to do more exploration and to build (a) pipeline with understanding that they will own it, operate it and transfer later," Dau said.

South Sudan relies almost exclusively on oil revenue for its income.

South Sudan and Sudan approached the brink of war last year following disputes over oil in the border territory of Heglig.

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