February 27, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Monday signalled a more rigid approach to the negotiations on oil with South Sudan by saying that it will not change its previous positions.
Said Al-Kahteeb, a senior member of Khartoum’s negotiating team, was quoted by the pro-government Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website as saying that they will not forfeit their right to a rewarding return in the next round of talks.
Previous rounds of protracted negotiations failed to yield an agreement on how much landlocked South Sudan should pay for transporting its oil through Sudan’s infrastructure, triggering a crisis that saw Khartoum confiscating oil and Juba suspending oil production all together.
The stand off gave rise to heightened tension and frantic diplomatic efforts by regional and international stakeholders to avert a renewed conflict as officials from both countries exchanged warnings of a return to war.
During this month’s negotiations in Addis Ababa, Khartoum reportedly asked for $36 per barrel but Juba immediately dismissed the figure. South Sudan wants to pay around $1.
Al-Kahteeb said that his delegation demonstrated flexibility and commitment to allowing South Sudan to export its oil and reaching an understanding with the other side.
But he stressed that such an understanding “cannot be built on the price that South [Sudan] government delegation is talking about”.
The Sudanese official said they are still awaiting a confirmation on the official date for next negotiating round from the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
On the other side, South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum said they will come to the talks with an open heart but insisted that they will not pay more than $0.69 per barrel. He also said that Khartoum must reimburse Juba for the oil it has seized since last year.
He said that should talks fail again then oil closure is likely to continue adding that that southerners would rather be patient than have someone else steal their resources.
South Sudan took with it three quarters of Sudan’s daily oil production of 500,000 barrels when it seceded in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil wars between the two sides.
Without the oil money now the two countries need to figure other ways to fund their budget which would be a more challenging and daunting task for South Sudan which is just building a nation from scratch.