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Sudan Oil Exports under Force Majeure As Pipeline Ruptures in War Zone

Sudan has declared force majeure on crude oil exports from landlocked neighbor South Sudan, following a major rupture in the pipeline carrying crude from South Sudan to a port in Sudan in an area with active military activity.  

The latest conflict in Sudan erupted in April last year, when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, took up arms against the Sudanese army in the capital Khartoum.

Sudan is the only conduit for crude oil exports out of landlocked South Sudan. 

South Sudan broke from Sudan in 2011 and took with it around 350,000 bpd in oil production. However, the only export oil pipeline out of landlocked South Sudan passes through its neighbor to the north, Sudan.

The two countries export primarily the Nile and Dar blends to markets in Asia from Port Sudan via the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. While most of the oil belongs to South Sudan, the two countries together exported some 132,000 bpd of crude oil in 2021.

Now the force majeure, issued in recent days, was the result of a rupture of the pipeline in a “military operations area” close to a pumping station, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing a letter from Sudan’s Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mohieldin Naim, which it had seen.

Damage to the pipeline, on which South Sudan’s crude oil exports depend, was first detected nearly two weeks ago when a blockage on the pipe was detected and later cleared. But several days later, the pipeline lost pressure and a leak was detected.  

Repair works are being impeded by the “current war conditions in Sudan,” according to the minister’s letter seen by Bloomberg.

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Since the Sudan war broke out nearly a year ago, analysts have been warning that it could threaten South Sudan’s crude oil exports at any moment. Last month, the main refinery in Sudan was shelled and damaged.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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