Conflict shuts in 18% of S’Sudan oil output

South Sudan’s oil production has fallen by 45,000 barrels per day to 200,000 bpd after oilfields in Unity state shut down due to fighting, the petroleum minister said.

“We have temporarily shut down oil production in Unity state, which was producing 45,000 barrels of oil per day,” Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told Reuters on Wedesday.

Unity has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the 10-day-old conflict and much of the state has been seized by rebels allied to former vice president Riek Machar.

The UN could nearly double the size of its peacekeeping force in South Sudan amid the conflict, while Machar and President Salva Kiir both indicated they were ready to talk to try to end a deepening conflict that has killed hundreds of people.

Information Minister Michael Makuei meanwhile dismissed claims by Machar that his rebels have taken over all the major oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states as “wishful thinking”.

Dau said workers had been evacuated from Unity’s oilfields but that production in Upper Nile state, where most of South Sudan’s oil is extracted, remained safe and outside the reach of rebels.

“We remain with Upper Nile (state), which is producing 200,000 barrels per day,” he said.

India’s ONGC Videsh has meanwhile followed operators Malaysia’s Petronas and China National Petroleum Corporation in evacuating its staff from two blocks in the conflict-hit region.

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