ONGC shuts down South Sudan oilfields

ONGC shuts down South Sudan oilfields

 Public sector explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation India (ONGC) on Monday evacuated all its employees from strife-torn South Sudan, having shut down its oilfields on Sunday. ONGC holds stake in four oil blocks in South Sudan and has invested $2.5 billion in them.

“None of our employees are there. All our executives and other workers are back in the country,” an ONGC official told Deccan Herald. He said 11 executives have returned to the country.

The step has been taken as a precautionary measure, although oil fields of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) have not been not targeted yet.

South Sudan, which was carved out of Sudan in 2011, retains 60 per cent of its oil fiends, many of which are situated near the new international border, which has seen constant violence and unrest since independence.

ONGC’s  foreign arm, OVL, has 25 per cent stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project, which produces about 40,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), and 24.125 per cent stake in Block 5A, which produced 5,000 bpd.

Other partners in the blocks — China's CNPC and Petronas of Malaysia — too have decided to evacuate their officials from South Sudan, according to sources.

The oil produced in OVL's fields and other projects in the country are exported through pipelines across neighbouring Sudan.

Sources said the US too has evacuated close to 700 of its officials and private citizens to Nairobi and other locations.

Last year in January, OVL and its partners had shut oil production in the Greater Nile Oil Project after a dispute between South Sudan and Sudan over pipeline transit fees. Production resumed only by the end of the year.

Fighting in South Sudan, which broke out on December 15, has so far claimed about 500 lives, including Indian soldiers working as United Nations peacekeepers.

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