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According to Reuters, on Saturday, rebels loyal to former South Sudanese vice president, Riek Machar, kidnapped four workers of DAR Petroleum Operating Company, whose holders include China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China’s Sinopec, and Malaysia’s Petronas.
Earlier this year, South Sudan was said to have been planning to increase oil output, but the ongoing civil war has made it difficult to pump more crude.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but it has been a bloody road to establishing a stable government whose budget is dependent almost entirely on oil revenues. In December 2013, civil war broke out when President Salva Kiir Mayardit sacked the cabinet and accused Vice President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup. The civil war ended in 2015—at least officially—but clashes have been frequent since.
Now fighters loyal to Machar have seized the four workers of DAR Petroleum Operating Company—the second group of oil employees to have been kidnapped this month alone.
The government of South Sudan said it was negotiating the release of the workers via “diplomatic channels” and accused the rebels of demanding ransom.
But a spokesman for the rebels, Lam Paul Gabriel, told Reuters there was no such demand.
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“There are no conditions for their release, but we want to make it clear to their country of residence and the government that we do not want their company to operate in South Sudan,” Gabriel said.
Last week, a confidential report by the UN—seen by Reuters—showed that the government of famine-stricken South Sudan is using at least half of its revenues from oil sales to acquire weapons, despite the dramatic political, economic, and humanitarian crises in the country.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.