KHARTOUM - Five months of fighting in South Sudan has cut the country's economically vital oil production by nearly 50 percent, the United States special envoy to the country said Thursday.
"The conflict at this point has resulted in a reduction by almost half of oil output from South Sudan," Ambassador Donald Booth, special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, told African-based journalists in a conference call from Washington.
Industry sources had estimated the fighting caused a drop in production of between 130,000 and 160,000 barrels per day.
That is down from around 245,000 bpd before fighting began between government and rebel forces in December.
Some of the heaviest combat has been in the oil state of Unity, which borders Sudan.
Sudanese soldiers celebrate on a tank after recapturing the Daldako area, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of South Kordofan's state capital Kadugli, on Tuesday. PHOTO/AFP
Oil once generated hundreds of millions of dollars and provided 98 percent of revenue for the government of the impoverished South, which became independent from Sudan three years ago.
"So the entire country, even if not directly involved in the fighting, will suffer for a long time economically as a result of this conflict," Booth said.
South Sudan's oil is still exported through Sudanese pipelines. Fees and related transfers the South pays on a per-barrel basis are also economically significant for the north.
Before the South's war began, Khartoum projected those fees to make up about 10 percent of Sudan's revenue.
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