Hydrocarbon Reserves of Sudan and South Sudan

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Oil and Gas


Sudan and South Sudan had a combined five billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2012, according to the Oil & Gas Journal.[1] About 75% of these lie within South Sudan,[2] in the Muglad and Melut basins.[3] Other analysts have put the combined reserves of the two countries as low as 4.2 billion barrels (Wood Mackenzie) and as high as 6.7 billion barrels (BP Statistical Review).[1]

The countries also have a combined 3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of known gas reserves, but as of March 2012 gas exploration had been limited, and development of oil had taken priority over gas.[1]


Oil production in Sudan began in the late 1990s, and combined crude production in Sudan and South Sudan in 2011 averaged about 425,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production in 2011 was disrupted on several occasions due primarily to labor shortages, brought about in part by the temporary evacuation of north Sudanese workers in April of that year; for the remainder of the year, production was adversely affected by the migration of skilled workers from the North after the secession of the South[1] in July 2011.[4]

As of January 2012, Sudan's oil production was 115,000 bpd, according to Azhari Abdalla, director general of the Oil Exploration and Production Administration (OEPA), who said the country planned to produce 180,000 bpd by the end of 2012 by improving the recovery rate of its fields from 23 percent to to 47 percent through the application of more efficient technologies. He added that production would be stable at 180,000 bpd until 2016, after which Sudan wanted to increase production to 320,000 bpd.[5]

South Sudan shut down all of its production in January 2012[4] due to a dispute with Sudan over pipeline fees,[6] and in March 2012 the EIA said it was difficult to estimate when companies operating there would be able to restart production.[4]



The northern Sudanese government has focused its oil exploration efforts on two key zones in areas it has controlled since before the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 - Darfur in the west and the Red Sea zone in the east.[7]

Sudan started drilling its first offshore exploration well in in Block 15 in the Red Sea Basin in February 2010. Exploration activities were being led by the Red Sea Petroleum Operating Co., a consortium of five firms led by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Malaysia’s state oil firm Petronas (each with 35% interest in Block 15), along with Sudan’s state oil firm Sudapet, Nigeria’s Express Petroleum and Sudanese firm High Tech Group.[8]

Exploration activities in north Darfur state in Sudan led to the discovery of several new oil fields in March 2012. Ownership of the discovered fields was the subject of dispute between the Adeela Locality (East Darfur State) and Gibaish Locality (North Kordofan State), according to the commissioner of the Adeela Locality.[9] As of March 2012, native administrators in the two localities had reached a temporary agreement pending demarcation of the border, to be supervised by Sudan's Decentralized Government Chambers.[10]

South Sudan

French oil company Total announced in February 2012 that it planned to restart exploration activities on its Block B concession in South Sudan after a 27-year hiatus, writing in an emailed statement that "a preparatory work programme is to be soon submitted to South Sudanese authorities for their approval," news agency The Citizen reported.[11] Total holds a 32.5 per cent share of Block B, which is located in Jonglei State, near the Ethiopian border. The company signed an exploration and production sharing agreement for the concession in 1980, but suspended operations in 1985 as insecurity in the region escalated due to the civil war.[12]

A workshop was held in Juba in March 2012, hosted by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), to evaluate the way forward for exploration activities in South Sudan's oil fields, resulting in the passing and signing of "Exploration Technical Review" and "Development Technical Review" papers by GNPOC and its partners; namely the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), Petronas, ONGC Videsh, Nilepet and the government.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "EIA Country Analysis" US Energy Information Administration, 19 March 2012.
  2. "Sudanese refugees flee to South Sudan" UPI.com, 6 June 2012.
  3. "Oil and Gas in Sudan - Overview" MBendi Information Services, retrieved 22 May 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "South Sudan becomes an independent nation" BBC News Africa, 8 July 2011.
  5. "Sudan to boost oil output to 180,000 bpd in 2012" Reuters Africa, 15 January 2012.
  6. "South Sudan shuts down its oil production countrywide" Sudan Tribune, 20 January 2012.
  7. "Sudan: New oil wells could avert civil war" UPI.com, 23 June 2010.
  8. "Sudan starts oil exploration in Red Sea" Sudan Tribune, 3 February 2010.
  9. "Sudan Discovers New Oil Fields in Central Darfur" Gulf Oil and Gas, 2 March 2012.
  10. "Sudan Discovers New Oil Fields" Petroleum Africa, 2 March 2012.
  11. "Total to resume South Sudan oil exploration after 27 years" The Citizen, 5 February 2012.
  12. "Block B" Total website, Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  13. "Exploration Technical Review Paper Passed By GNPOC And Partners" Gurtong, 8 March 2012.