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On the scene in South Sudan

05/07/2012 This summer, the petroleum authorities in South Sudan are moving into new offices in Juba, the capital.

The office is financed by Norwegian development aid funds and is partially decorated by local schoolchildren.

“A delegation from the Norwegian authorities and I accompanied Minister of Petroleum and Mining Muhamed Lino Benjamin to visit a school. The children were tasked with drawing the values of the South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum and Mining (MPM),” says Gunnar Søiland, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s project coordinator for South Sudan, who also got to try his hand at drawing.

The MPM’s five values are:

  • To protect the environment
  • For the oil industry to be a safe workplace
  • Zero tolerance for corruption
  • That petroleum is used in the best possible manner for society
  • That everyone has the same opportunities

Gunnar Søiland (NPD) discusses values with South Sudanese schoolchildren.

School visit: Gunnar Søiland (NPD) discusses values with South Sudanese schoolchildren. At left Mona Wahlen (Petrad), at right Minister of Petroleum and Mining Muhamed Lino Benjamin.
(Photo: Ole Ekern)

Søiland thinks it is positive that the children, who represent the future, are involved in the project.

“And it’s great to hear that the Minister of Petroleum and Mining is out talking to people about the fact that the country has resources that can create values – and that this should benefit everyone,” he says.

South Sudan was a part of Sudan until summer 2011, when the country was declared independent. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has been involved in Sudan, and now also South Sudan, through the Oil for Development programme (OfD) since the second Sudan civil war ended in 2005.

Long-term cooperation
Since January 2012, the NPD and the Petrad foundation have cooperated with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in South Sudan. Work is currently ongoing on a long-term aid agreement. The NPD also uses consultants.

Gunnar Søiland coordinates the work for the NPD, and involves other parties when needed. The NPD and Petrad have organised seminars and courses in the East African country, and the NPD has also headed a project within improved oil recovery (IOR).

Like the NPD, Petrad has been involved in the country since 2005. The foundation works on building capacity, and offers courses, seminars and guidance. But the most important task is perhaps being there when putting theory into practice:

“Implementation is a key word for what we’re doing. I help them identify their needs – and provide support to help them solve the challenges themselves,” says Mona Wahlen, project manager in Petrad.

Significant oil reserves
South Sudan consists of many traditional tribal societies, and has nearly 8.3 million citizens. The country is nearly twice the size of Norway, and is characterised by tropical forests, swamps and grassland.

There are considerable oil deposits in the border areas between South Sudan and Sudan. Most of the reserves that belonged to the original Sudan – about 75 per cent – are located in the part that became South Sudan. Until this winter, the country produced about 350,000 barrels of oil every day. It was exported to the market in a pipeline running through Sudan.

The disagreement regarding how much South Sudan should pay to have its oil transported via oil pipelines through Sudan to the Red Sea resulted in South Sudan ceasing production and transportation of oil from 22 January this year. The production shut-down has resulted in significantly less cash in the treasury.

Many challenges
Gunnar Søiland believes it is important that the South Sudanese now spend their time establishing good public administration of the oil activities. This includes, among other things, legislation, guidelines for awarding and following up production licences, computer systems that can keep track of the information regarding discoveries and fields, as well as the expertise to stipulate requirements for companies that will be developing new fields.

After several decades of civil war and internal unrest, South Sudan is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. According to the UN, about 50 per cent of the population lives below the poverty level. In 2010, only six per cent of the children in Sudan (including South Sudan) attended school – and a much lower percentage finished school.

The country also has the world’s highest rate of maternal mortality (2054 per 100,000 births), and there is only one qualified midwife per 30,000 people. Basic infrastructure such as water, roads, sanitation and electricity is not in place for most people. According to Søiland, only 100 km of the country’s roads are paved.


Updated: 05/07/2012