South Sudan to split oil block claimed by Total

The government of recently-formed South Sudan plans to split an oil exploration block owned by French firm Total, according to an exclusive report from Reuters.

Total has owned the rights to the massive Block B for several decades, a deal struck with the government in Khartoum before Sudan was split into two countries after a protracted civil war.

Not long after the formation of South Sudan, the government claimed the right to renegotiate contracts first agreed upon under the previous government. Officials from South Sudan have regularly expressed frustration with Total for its refusal to restart oil exploration in the block thanks to concerns about violence in the region.

In response, the South Sudanese government is expected to announce the block will be split between Total, U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Kuwaiti national oil company Kufpec.

"The other two will be put on tender ... It's going to happen soon," Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters. "The ministry has a green light to go ahead with that."

As it stands, The Associated Press notes that the country is unlikely to see full oil production until at least a year after the fighting with Sudan this past April.

Outlooks for oil production in Sudan can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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