NEW DELHI: With the shutdown in the oil industry in South Sudan drastically slashing output, India has rushed a special envoy to the region to prevail upon Khartoum and Juba to resolve their oil dispute, as ONGC Videsh Limited with significant assets in the oil rich region has run up major losses.
“Additional secretary in Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Amarendra Khatua has been sent as the special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan to apprise both the countries about India’s concerns and ask them to talk to each other to resolve the impasse,” a senior MEA official told Express.
OVL’s share in the region’s oil production was about 34,000 barrels per day (BPD), but following the directive from Juba, production has been slashed to a quarter of the capacity. Indian investments, mostly by ONGC Videsh, in Sudan and South Sudan total more than $2.5 billion. In fact, a sizable share of OVL’s overseas production comes from Syria.
Meanwhile, Khatua who reached Khartoum on Monday is scheduled to travel to the capital of newly-independent South Sudan, Juba on Tuesday.
“He is scheduled to meet with the Foreign Minister and the Oil Minister in
both countries,” said the official. New Delhi has had extensive oil interests in erstwhile united Sudan, but most of it got transferred to South Sudan after the country secured independence in July.
Earlier this year, ONGC Videsh signed a transition agreement with the South Sudan government for three oil blocks in the Greater Nile Oil project, along with partners China’s CNPC and Malaysia’s Petronas.
The dispute between Khartoum and Juba has been mainly over the transit fee to be paid by the latter, as most of the downstream and export facilities are located in the former’s territory.