South Sudan’s oil production has dropped by 20,000 b/d to 170,000 b/d because of the impact of surging coronavirus cases, which has led to disruptions in operations at oil fields, Daniel Chuang, undersecretary in the ministry of petroleum, said July 20.
“The measures put in place to contain the spread of the COVID 19 have impacted both production and the revenues from crude exports,” he said in a telephone interview.
The country was aiming to produce 200,000 b/d in 2020, ramping up to 350,000 b/d by 2025, and had started to produce around 190,000 b/d in January, Chuang said.
The collapse in revenues is attributed to factors ranging from severe global restrictions on movements that have affected the supply chain, hindering the export and sale of crude on the global market, he said.
The pandemic has also disrupted transportation logistics between Port Sudan and the northern oil fields in Upper Nile and Unity states.
Oil production in Upper Nile has dropped from 130,000 b/d to 120,000 b/d and in Unity state it has dropped from 60,000 b/d to 50,000 b/d.
Commissioning of the 8,000 b/d Safinat refinery near Juba, which was slated to start operation late last year, has been delayed as engineers were evacuated from the site due to fears of an escalation of the pandemic, he added.
Both Port Mombasa in Kenya and Port Sudan have experienced disruptions due to the virus, leading to delays in the delivery of critical materials needed for the refinery and the oil fields.
Chuang also said that South Sudan’s daily production is likely to continue dwindling if COVID-19 is not contained in the near future.
The country has also put on hold the planned licensing round for over 14 onshore blocks which had been planned to start in March this year.