LONDON (Reuters) - South Sudanese oil output could remain absent from world markets in the near future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday, as the country struggles to reach a revenue-sharing agreement with its northern neighbour.
South Sudan shut down its oil production in January, after Sudan seized some of the crude in a dispute over fees.
The landlocked South’s only current means of exporting its crude is through northern pipelines, although it is considering building a pipeline through Ethiopia and Djibouti.
The IEA estimates South Sudan was producing about 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, while Sudan produced 110,000 bpd.
“In the absence of a foreseeable resolution, we have also reduced production estimates by around 200,000 bpd in (the first quarter of 2012) and by 100,000 bpd for 2012, reflecting landlocked South Sudan’s export conundrum,” the IEA said.
China, which imported 260,000 bpd of Sudanese and South Sudanese oil last year, about 5.2 percent of its total imports, is likely to see the biggest impact from the disruption, the IEA said.
Khartoum and Juba have other disagreements, including over the status of Abyei, a border region that is claimed by both.
“While it is impossible to predict the outcome, the broader set of economic and political factors at play mean that the two countries’ oil output will remain at risk at least for the remainder of the year,” the IEA said.
Sudan and South Sudan are set to resume oil talks on Friday.