Sui-Lee Wee Beijing

Sudan has denounced suggestions that it was confiscating oil from South Sudan and indicated yesterday that the newly independent nation was responsible for stonewalling an oil deal between the two countries.

South Sudan became Africa’s newest nation in July last year under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war, but many issues remain unresolved, including oil, debt and violence on both sides of the poorly defined border.

Tension escalated in January after Khartoum began taking oil from its landlocked southern neighbour, which exports its crude through Sudan’s pipelines to a port on the Red Sea. South Sudan shut down its entire oil production of 350 000 barrels a day in protest.

Sudan Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti denied “confiscating” the oil, saying the south had used Sudan’s facilities, equipment and ports without “paying a penny”.

“This is not the right word to be used here,” he said. “We are not confiscating anything. Think of that, we gave everything. We gave the secession of the south, we helped everything. We gave them, according to the agreement, the whole facilities and oil within that territory.”

Karti said the AU held the key to solving the oil impasse and invited China National Petroleum, Malaysia’s Petronas and India to help mediate. – Reuters