Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) -The Government of South Sudan has asked Khartoum to cut the lease of Sudanese oil transportation facilities.

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A pipeline that transports crude oil from the south to Port Sudan (Reuters)

Juba said its request was prompted by the fall in oil prices on the international market.

Speaking to Ashrooq’s TV the South Sudanese foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin said a request to this effect was presented to the Sudanese government.

“Oil prices have dropped ..They are no longer like in the past ..We have to see how we can share the oil revenue under these conditions.. And if we suppose that the oil price can go down to 20 dollars, at that time there would be nothing to share,’’ said the South Sudanese top diplomat.

He said the oil ministers in Khartoum and Juba were discussing the matter, but no decision has been reached so far.

Benjamin has, however, expressed optimism that a solution could be reached on the matter.

Oil prices have been on continuous decline , dropping to less than 36 U.S Dollars per barrel this week.

In August 2013 South Sudan agreed to pay to Khartoum $9.10 for the oil produced in Upper Nile state and $11 for that of Unity state which produces some 20% of South Sudan’s oil. Also Juba agreed to pay the Transitional Financial Assistance (TFA) to the average of the agreed oil transportation fees.

In January 2015, South Sudan’s petroleum minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau said his country will consider whether to continue paying Sudan $25 per barrel of oil or push for reduction.

The $25 per barrel of oil being paid was meant to expedite the repayment of a $3 billion compensatory package they agreed to pay Sudan.

Benjamin has further said that President Salva Kiir Mayardit had offered to mediate between Khartoum and the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North(SPLM/N).

The TV interview was shot during the recent visit by the South Sudanese official to Khartoum to attend Sudan’s 60th independence anniversary celebrations.

Benjamin has denied his government ‘s intention to arrest the SPLM in Opposition leader Riek Machar and his group members when they finally return to Juba.

“Machar will be safe in Juba.. The guarantee for this is his agreement with President Salva Kiir that South Sudan should live in peace and stability,’’ he said.

He said a transitional government will be formed once Machar is in Juba. ”Nobody is planning to arrest Machar when he arrives in Juba.. His advance team of 200 troops, led by Taban Deng, is already in Juba,’’ he added.

Benjamin also defended Juba’s decision to divide the country into 28 states which was seen as a violation of the peace accord between the government and Machar’s group.

“The division of the states represents a popular wish that has nothing to do with the peace agreement signed with Machar,’’ he said.

He also refused to describe the atrocities committed during the three year conflict as war crimes, saying what had been said was far from the truth.

He also strongly rejected the calls for referring the issue to the International Criminal Court.

“Those calls are coming from outside South Sudan and totally contradict the African Union’s Committee report that denied the occurrence of war crimes and violations committed in the South.

In reply to a question, Benjamin ruled out the reunification of South Sudan with Sudan .

“The situation in the Sudan and Southern Sudan dictates the cooperation of two countries on the basis of two independent states,’’ he said.

He said the option for confederation between the two countries is in need of many prerequisites to be met , foremost the promotion of trade and the economy and the cementing of the relations between the two countries.