South Sudan says it aims to attract international finance to help develop its oil and gas sector during the upcoming third oil and gas conference in Juba.
Awow Daniel Chuang, minister of petroleum, said they aim to attract investors to provide finance in order to revive redundant projects in the oil and energy sector which failed to take off largely due to lack of finance and disruption caused by the more than five years of conflict in the youngest nation.
“This year we are planning a lot of things and that’s why it is very important to have this conference,” Chuang told journalists in Juba.
“The “theme of financing” is very strong because most of the projects that we had been pursuing over the years failed because of financing. We have some issues to be addressed in regards to financing whether restructuring of our banking system or the relationship between our banks and international banks,” Chuang said.
South Sudan will on Oct.28-30 host its third annual oil and gas conference in partnership with Africa Oil and Power which focuses on key issues of finance, oil field technology and community development.
“I think it is very important for us to focus on (financing) so that we are able to address the challenges we face as a country for us to be able to tap the resources using international funding using experts working in oil and power,” he added.
Chuang disclosed that they have since 2017 relied on the Africa Oil and Power conferences to market South Sudan’s oil industry to the world as the country seeks to consolidate its position of being the major oil producer in the region ahead of new comers like Kenya and Uganda.
“South Sudan has a lot of opportunities that are still there to be developed especially energy security,” said the minister.
“For us to talk of energy security we talk about refining, when we talk about refining it means that we can develop other sectors using fuel,” he said.
“We have refineries that have been proposed for years but still we don’t have enough capacity although we have one that is a small one and it’s not going to be enough for the consumption of South Sudan,” he said.
The minister said the signing of the revitalized peace deal in September 2018 by the warring parties in Ethiopia has greatly improved security around the oil fields in the northern regions of Unity and Upper Nile which enabled the government in January to revive production.
“Oilfields are more secure than any other place in South Sudan which means South Sudan is becoming more secure and the peace implementation also is in progress which will help us to attract more investors to South Sudan whether in the upstream or downstream,” said the minister.
James Chester, content director and co-founder Africa Oil and Power, said availability of finance is critical to boost the oil and gas sector that badly needs foreign capital to support South Sudan’s economic recovery.
“Finance is a major theme because local businesses cannot grow without it, how do we get it from international financial institutions, how do we deal with issues like trade restrictions and how can local banks lend? These are all questions that we want to address,” he said.
Chester added that they have partnered with the ministry of finance, energy and dams and also ministry of petroleum.
“We are inviting all local companies and all international companies with interest in being involved in South Sudan, East Africa’s only major oil-producer a very compelling on show venue for investment in Africa because we think South Sudan has a powerful message and powerful story to tell,” said Chester.
South Sudan depends 95 percent on oil production to finance its fiscal budget. The crude is transported through Port Sudan.
Oil production has of late peaked to 175,000 barrels a day from less than 130,000 bpd due to prevailing peace after the government and opposition groups signed the revitalized peace deal in September 2018 in Ethiopia.