German group urges South Sudan to shutdown ‘dilapidated’ oil pipeline

A Sudanese engineer points at the damage to an oil pipeline in a largely damaged oilfield in Heglig April 23, 2012. REUTERS photo

A Sudanese engineer points at the damage to an oil pipeline in a largely damaged oilfield in Heglig April 23, 2012. REUTERS photo

February 26th 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – A key South Sudan oil export pipeline suffered at least two massive spills last year, an NGO reported Tuesday, urging the government to shut it down before it causes more environmental damage.

German NGO Sign of Hope, which has long investigated the impact of oil pollution in the country, used satellite images to detect two major oil spills in 2019, only one of which was reported by the government.

The first occurred last August some 40km north of the northern town of Rubkona, with an estimated 12 500 barrels or two million litres of oil spilling into the environment and heavily polluting drinking water.

At the time former Petroleum Minister Awou Daniel Chuang said only 2 000 barrels had spilled, which the report said was not “plausible” given satellite imagery showing “massive spreading in all directions”.

However a second spill, which has not been publicly reported by the government or oil companies, took place just 6.5 kilometres away and sent some 25 000 barrels of oil into the surrounds, the NGO found.

“South Sudan’s main export oil pipeline is dilapidated. That is why it keeps on experiencing ruptures. These, in turn, are causing massive oil spills,” the report said.

Sign of Hope called on the government and the oil consortium responsible for the pipeline – made up of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and local companies – to “immediately shut down the dilapidated pipeline, to remove and to properly dispose of the oil spilled and the ensuing wastes.”

The 21-year-old oil pipeline carries crude from 64 oil wells through Sudan to be shipped for export.

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