HEGLIG OIL FIELD, Sudan, March 28 Fighting
involving South Sudanese forces near Sudan's Heglig oilfield has
not affected the field's 60,000 barrels per day output, its
Chinese-led operator said on Wednesday.
Clashes broke out on Monday in several areas along the
border between Sudan and South Sudan, which became independent
in July last year, with each side blaming the other.
Sudan said on Tuesday it had expelled southern army units
from the area around the Heglig field, which is on the Sudan
side of the border and is one of the largest oil fields
remaining in the country.
"The output is unchanged.....at 60,000 barrels a day,"
Abdallah Suleiman, Vice President of Greater Nile Petroleum
Operating Co. (GNPOC), told reporters during a visit organised
by the government to the Heglig field.
"The production facilities were not affected by the events.
It's normal business," he said, standing near worker housing
facilities that were destroyed by the fighting.
The consortium, owned by Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and
Sudanese companies, would go ahead with plans to increase output
to 70,000 bpd, he said.
"We will reach this in two months," Suleiman said.
The Heglig field is key to the Sudanese economy because it
contributes almost half of the country's output of 115,000 bpd.
Sudan lost three quarters of its output when South Sudan
became independent in July last year. Both countries are locked
in a row over how much the landlocked new nation should pay to
export its crude through the north.
Suleiman also said an export pipeline from South Sudan
crossing the border was not damaged during the latest fighting.
South Sudan said Sudan launched airstrikes on major
oilfields in its Unity state on Tuesday and GNPOC, which also
has facilities there, confirmed they had been hit.
Sudan denied launching air strikes but said its ground
forces had attacked southern artillery positions which had fired
at the disputed Heglig area.
In January, South Sudan shut down its entire output of
350,000 bpd to stop Khartoum taking some oil for what it calls
unpaid transit fees.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Anthony Barker)