Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås is leading a high-level conference on South Sudan’s oil production together with the US authorities in Washington this week. State Secretary Arvinn Gadgil is visiting the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, and the capital of South Sudan, Juba.
“The resumption of oil production in South Sudan is a long-awaited and very positive step forward in South Sudan’s relations with Sudan, and Norway has played an active role in facilitating this. We attach importance to ensuring that future oil revenues should benefit the whole population,” Mr Holmås said.
Oil production in South Sudan and its transit and export through Sudan’s pipeline has been stopped since January 2012 due to disagreements over the sharing of revenues. This resulted in the economic situation in both countries becoming critical. Last month, both parties signed an implementation matrix for the Sudan–South Sudan agreements on oil, security arrangements, border issues, economic matters and other issues. Both countries have now taken important steps. Forces have been withdrawn from the border zone, an international security force that monitors the buffer zone has been expanded, and measures have been taken to facilitate the resumption of oil exports, which are expected to begin again in a few months’ time.
“The reestablishment of economic relations is very important for both countries, and not least for the hard-hit population. We are now seeing the results of sustained efforts and a close engagement with both states and the African Union. We are pleased to see that Norway’s efforts are bearing fruit,” Mr Gadgil said.
While in Sudan, Mr Gadgil will stress the importance of continued cooperation with South Sudan and the need to ensure humanitarian access to the civilian population in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In South Sudan, he will raise the issue of the authorities’ responsibility for ensuring the sound management of the country’s oil resources. He will also discuss the countries’ efforts to draw up new constitutions, and he will emphasise the importance of inclusive and democratic processes in the lead-up to the elections in both countries in 2015. Mr Gadgil is due to meet representatives of the central authorities and of civil society, the media, and women’s and youth organisations.
Press contact for the Minister of International Development: Astrid Versto (accompanying the Minister on his visit), mobile phone +47 90192920
Press contact for State Secretary Gadgil: Astrid Sehl, (accompanying the State Secretary on his visit) mobile phone +47 92284752