Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: The future of the oil sector in South Sudan

By Dickson Gatluak Jock

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

April 21, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — Oil remains a major threat to peace and stability in the country as the interim period of the Revitalized Peace Agreement draws to a close. The LORD has made everything for His purpose. For the last 15 years, oil has been a frequent reason for war in South Sudan and Sudan between the opposition and government specially in Upper Nile region.

During the 2013 civil war, almost 7 years, president Kiir has been shaping his military strategy during the war using resources from country’s ministry of petroleum to fund different militia groups in Upper Nile to target innocent civilians.

Oil has been branded a curse hence, most countries in Africa and South Sudan in particular, after Nigeria and Angola with the abundance oil natural resources has been faced with violent conflicts,caused by oil.

Petroleum resources have been misused by Juba to fund the wars in the country resulted to the destruction of Bentiu , Malakal, Bor, Pagak and Bharel-Gazal region,specially Aweil town when Gen. Paul Malong Awan quit the unity government and rebelled against the state in 2017.

Ministry of petroleum becomes one of the stumbling blocks where everyone from the main opposition( SPLM-IO ) political figures want to be appointed as the head. The economic mismanagement and political divisions mounting around oil at the national level have been a danger sign to the relative peace established between the Government and SPLM-IO since 2016.

I am glad that the oil prices drop below zero today during this period of Pandemic of Covid-19, sending dow, stocks lower to save the innocent lives in South Sudan. God has a plan!This may send a signal to South Sudan government to work for lasting peace and push for its implementation.

High-ranking members of SPLM and top army Generals have jeopardised the peace process by signing new oil contracts without consulting with the authorities concerned purposely to enrich themselves. For example, The director for NISS Gen. Akol Koor and Tut Kew Gatluak, advisor for security affairs and many others are well know as the most benefitted from the oil sector through contracted companies.

Factions in the SPLM or SSPDF remain engaged with oil companies outside of the agreed terms of the R-ARCSS. A key South Sudanese militia leader Gen. Mathew Pul Jang Top whose his forces are not fully merged with SSPDF is now posted to Mayom county, operating in oilfield as an independent commnader, where his forces get paid from oil or benefiting directly from the oil sector.

The persistence of these oil deals continues to play a role in undermining stability in the unity government and This further weakens the economic well-being of the entire country as it is highly unlikely that the fledgling oil companies involved have the capacity to carry out serious exploration; rather, they seek a quick pay-off of concession rights should oil all together.

The failure of governance at the regional level to counter corruption and resolve political tensions surrounding oil reveals a further layer of the resource curse in South Sudan. As indicated now by the drastic fall of oil price.

I want to remind the regime in Juba that we have enough fertile land, we need to focus on agricultural development and other non oil sectors.I am urging my people in South Sudan to put down their guns and start cultivating to produce more food as we approach the rainy season.

The author is a former spokesman of the SPLLA-IO (Taban) and is a member of the South Sudan United Front (SUFF/A). He can be reached via: dicksongatluak2013@gmail.com

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