Sudan protesters block crucial oil pipelines: oil minister

Khartoum (AFP) –


Sudan's oil minister said Saturday protesters blocked two key oil pipelines in Port Sudan, the main seaport on the Red Sea, over a peace deal with rebel groups.

Warning of "an extremely grave situation", Oil Minister Gadein Ali Obeid told AFP one pipeline transports oil exports from South Sudan while the other provide Sudan with crude imports.

"Entrances and exits at the port's exports terminal have been completely shuttered" since early Saturday, he said.

Last year, several rebel groups signed a landmark accord with Sudan's transitional government which came to power shortly after the April 2019 ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Beja tribes people in Sudan's impoverished east where Port Sudan is located have criticised the fragile peace deal saying it does not represent them.

Port Sudan is the country's main seaport and a vital trade hub for its crippled economy dependent on exports.

The Khartoum government receives around $25 for every barrel of oil sold from South Sudan, according to official figures.

South Sudan produces around 162,000 barrels a day. It is transported via pipelines to Port Sudan and then shipped to global markets.

Protests against the October 2020 deal have rocked east Sudan since last week.

On September 17, demonstrators impeded access to the docks at Port Sudan.

At the time, protest leader Sayed Abuamnah told AFP demonstrators had also blocked "the main container and oil export terminals".

On Friday, demonstrators blocked the entrance to the airport and a bridge linking Kassala State in the east with the rest of the country.

The unrest comes as Sudan grapples with deep economic woes left in the wake of Bashir's ouster, whose three-decade iron-fisted rule was marked by prolonged US sanctions.

The demonstrations also come a week after the administration of embattled Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said it had thwarted a failed coup attempt.