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S.Sudan woos investors as peace deal revives oil industry

2 min

Juba (AFP)

South Sudan said Wednesday that the country's latest peace deal had helped revive its war-battered oil sector, with an increase of 20,000 barrels per day in the past two months.

The country's warring parties in September signed a new peace deal to end five years of civil war that has killed an estimated 380,000 people and crippled the oil industry, which funded about 98 percent of its budget.

Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told hundreds of investors attending a three-day forum in Juba that the peace deal had revived activity in Unity State, raising production from 135,000 to 155,000 barrels per day.

"We are aggressively informing the whole world that the potentials are very high here," Gatkuoth told South Sudan's second Africa Oil and Power conference.

"Now with this peace let's go back to where we were," he added.

At its peak, oil production in South Sudan was at 350,000 barrels a day.

The oil sector's revival was a key part of the peace deal mediated by Sudan, whose economy has also suffered from the slowdown in oil output to the south.

Khartoum mediated the peace deal, and in June this year pledged to help repair South Sudan's damaged oil fields.

Gatkuoth said companies from Russia and Nigeria had signed agreements to explore new oil blocks.

"We are working to bring in investors and increasing production and doing oil exploration in different areas," he said.

"South Sudan has a lot of blocks that are empty... South Sudan is a place where you can invest. And we are business friendly."

South Sudan achieved independence in 2011, but remained heavily dependent on its northern neighbour's oil infrastructure -- refineries and pipelines -- for exports.

Observers note that competition for the country's oil resources has been central to its conflicts and oil revenue has helped sustain fighting.

Earlier this year, an investigation by watchdog group The Sentry showed how South Sudan's elite used funds from state oil company Nile Petroleum Corporation to "fund militias responsible for horrific acts of violence" and enrich themselves.

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