In 2013, South Sudan sank into a costly war, and disrupted social and economic activity, especially production of oil – its major export. A peace deal signed in July this year holds the key to the country’s revival. Julius Barigaba spoke to Guillaume Doane, co-founder and CEO of Africa Oil & Power, about the prospects for Juba.
South Sudan has Africa’s third largest oil reserves despite 70 per cent of the country still being unexplored. Why do the major companies in the oil shun it?
The war was undoubtedly a major setback for the country. And it coincided with arguably the most challenging period in the history of the oil and gas industry — a sustained period of depressed prices.
With a fragile peace agreement in place and a stabilisation of the oil price, it is only a matter of time before South Sudan regains the confidence of investors.
The country has too much oil, too much infrastructure and too much know how on the ground to be ignored.
The memorandum of understanding between South Sudan and the Russian exploration and development company Zarubezhneft in October 2018 is a sign that interest is growing.
After a long period of no oil production, what specific oil and energy prospects does South Sudan present?
The most exciting prospect is the country’s intention to triple oil production back to the original levels of 350,000 barrels of oil per day.
In August, we saw the resumption of the Toma South field in the Unity blocks for the first time in five years.
For the country to mobilise a rig into a war-torn area, this was historic and provides a strong indication that a ramp-up to pre-war production levels is possible. This year, we are also putting a lot more emphasis on the development of the power industry.
Another MoU signed earlier in November between the Ministry of Energy and Dams and Sahara Power Group for development in the power sector was a significant milestone.
The 2018 Africa Oil and Power Conference comes after the peace deal. How significant is its timing?
Until now, many observers have approached the peace agreement with cautious optimism. But certainly we can say that the deal is holding and the country is capitalising on this new period of stability. Our message to the world has always been, Keep believing in South Sudan.