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South Sudan Gets New Oil Minister in Post-Oust Shuffle

Six of South Sudan’s ministries —including its oil ministry—will be under new leadership 10 days after a breakaway faction ousted the former rebel leader, Riek Machar, who had been serving as the new country’s vice president.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth will oversee the oil portfolio of the country with the third-largest crude reserves in Africa. William Ezekiel, the opposition faction spokesman who made the announcement, added that Taban Deng Gai, the nation’s current vice president, had nominated Gatkuoth for the role.

Deng Gai usurped Machar’s position on 26 July.

Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said the group of ministers lost their jobs because they remained loyal to the former vice president. Many of the officials that have been replaced are now in Nairobi, according to a phone call cited by Bloomberg.

The civil war that began in December 2013 has left South Sudan’s oil industry in shambles with an output rate of 120,000 barrels per day. Tens of thousands of people have passed away so far and over two million people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge.

President Salva Kiir and Machar created a transitional government in April of this year in an effort to bring stability to the country, but in early July, fighting broke out between the two men’s followers. Related: Crude Holding Around $40 On Bullish EIA Data

A total of 270 people died in the clashes, after which Machar fled the country, prompting his replacement. Machar has since deemed his removal illegal.

The recent bloodshed once again makes South Sudan oil production unlikely—a situation that negatively impacts both South Sudan and Sudan—along with China, who has been waiting in the wings for years.

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, also gaining control of about 75 percent of Sudan's oil production.?Unfortunately for South Sudan, it is landlocked, and must depend on Sudan’s pipeline through Sudan to get the oil to the Bashayer port along the Red Sea.

Sudan, who lost 75 percent of its oil revenue in the deal, managed to retain pipelines and facilities, allowing it to levy transfer fees on South Sudan for the transport of that oil through its territory.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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