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S. Sudan Oil Industry Transformation is Failing: Gov’t ignores reports on oil pollution, birth defects.

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The quest for genuine reforms in the country’s oil industry has taken longer than expected for the industry to engage itself into technological upgrading and innovation in upstream petroleum, globalization of the petroleum industry and suppliers’ experiences of entering foreign markets, diversification into and out of petroleum – and the potential for new growth paths after oil to enhance its operations locally before entering into global markets.

The petroleum sector is South Sudan’s most important industry in terms  of added value, country revenues, export value, capital investments as well as  the main engines of the country’s economy since independence , 9 July 2011.

It is obvious that over the years, South Sudan has failed to invest in the growth and reforms of this sector. This retrogression in the investment pattern of the country in the oil sector is noticeable in the retardation of the country’s economic growth and the citizens are getting little and continued to be at the mercy of investors. Major revenue from this sector also go into individuals pockets and the rest is a history.

However, the Ministry of Petroleum’s (MOP) current crisis is a systemic failure in implementation of its human resource policies, agreements with operators like Petronas of Malaysia, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and ONGC of India, and low institutional capacity and lack of technical capacities are the barriers to the transformation of the sector, extending to Nile Petroleum Corporation and across all the joint operating companies in the country namely, Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC), Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC) and SUUD Petroleum Operating Company (SPOC).

The oil industry in South Sudan has left a landscape pocked with hundreds of open waste pits, the water and soil contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals including mercury, manganese, and arsenic, according to environmental reports seen by NCMP.

The reports also contain accounts of “alarming” birth defects, miscarriages and other health problems among residents of the region. Residents also describe women unable to get pregnant.

Recently, an environmentalist called upon community leaders in the oil-producing states to bring attention to the office of the president oil pollution-related concerns.

The leakages, according to the leaders, cover over four kilometer-square area before it was later stopped, but it has already contaminated the water.

Unity Oilfield in South Sudan’s Unity state [Photo credit is unknown]

There are too many oil spills in South Sudan that have covered over 200,000 square. What is taking place is an environmental genocide in South Sudan. Grass is black from oil spills, air is dark from pillars of black smoke and layers of “black gold” cover water supplies.

Oil accounts for almost all the country’s exports and more than 40% of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. As South Sudan emerges from years of fighting, it is trying to revive its economy by expanding the industry.

“No one’s really watching. The government is neither willing nor able to monitor and enforce its own environmental laws,” said Luke Patey, senior researcher studying China’s oil investments in Africa at the Danish Institute for International Studies.

He said the result is “a vicious cycle of negligence.”

References

  • VOA website
  • Sudan post website
  • Eye Radio website

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