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Total has held a majority interest in Block B in the Jonglei state of South Sudan since the early 1980s, but due to the country’s civil war which began in 1983 and didn’t end until 2005, it was unable to begin any exploration activities in the 120,000 square kilometre concession.
Last year, in an attempt to speed up exploration of the area, the South Sudan government negotiated with Total to split the area into separate blocks, B1, B2, and B3.
A deal has now been agreed for Total to partner with Exxon Mobil, and Kufpec (of Kuwait) in exploration activities in Block B1. Reuters were also told that B2 was likely to be explored by the same consortium, and B3 still remains to be discussed.
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South Sudan restarted oil production in May 2013 after a 16 month period in which oil exports were completely stopped due to a dispute with Khartoum, Sudan, over the fees the south must pay for using pipeline infrastructure.
South Sudan is keen to build its own pipelines through Kenya or Ethiopia, to Djibouti in order to end its reliance on Khartoum-owned pipes, however such a project would only be viable if giant new oil discoveries were made. Their hopes then, pin on the success of exploration in B1, B2, and B3.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com