Sudan urges foreign oil firms to step up investment

Mohammed Alamin and Salma El Wardany September 23, 2019

NAIROBI (Bloomberg) - Sudan’s newly appointed oil minister urged international energy companies to speed up efforts to find and develop deposits in a country struggling to recover from U.S. sanctions and a plunge in petroleum revenue.

Officials from Schlumberger met with Oil and Mining Minister Adel Ali Ibrahim and expressed a readiness to resume working in the North African nation, the ministry said in a statement.

Ibrahim said he’s seeking the “return of the oil and gas sector to its leading role by developing the fields and solving the issues that caused the drop in production,” according to the statement.

Sudan’s output plummeted after South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking most of the country’s crude deposits with it. Although the U.S. in 2017 lifted crippling sanctions it had imposed on Sudan two decades earlier, the economy remains starved of fresh investment. Banks are short of cash, and inflation soared to 53% in August, according to the Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics.

Sudan pumped 100,000 bpd of crude last year, a fraction of what it produced before South Sudan became independent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ibrahim, in the meeting with Schlumberger officials, discussed investment opportunities in the Red Sea and central Sudan as well as at existing fields, the ministry said.

Ibrahim was appointed in the first cabinet installed since the ouster in April of long-term leader Omar al-Bashir. Bashir faced months of protests against the government’s economic mismanagement, repression and corruption before the military ended his 30-year rule.

Under Bashir, Sudan had failed to keep peace internally, losing its largest oil fields and 60% of its fiscal revenue with South Sudan’s secession. The U.S. had imposed sanctions in 1997 for human rights violations and concerns over terrorism, then intensified curbs in 2006 for what it said was Khartoum’s complicity in violence in the Darfur region.

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