* Agrees to export Dar Blend oil from Port Sudan
* S. Sudan says oil production to resume in "few days"
* Trafigura previously in legal dispute over Sudanese oil
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, March 27 Oil trader Trafigura, a dealer
in Sudanese oil long before the nation split, has signed an
export agreement with the South which is preparing to resume
output after a gap of more than a year.
The deal is a coup for Trafigura. Until late last year the
firm was caught up in a legal dispute over a cargo of oil that
South Sudan claimed was stolen by its northern neighbour.
The Switzerland-based firm, which corporate filings show
gets nearly 30 percent of its oil turnover from Africa, is the
world's third biggest trader in raw materials.
Trading houses have jostled for access to South Sudan's low
sulphur oil, which is sought by Asian buyers. The firms are
seeking to expand their presence in Africa and extend
distribution networks in a region where fuel demand is booming.
Rival Glencore was the first to secure an agreement
to market South Sudan's oil, but the deal was later scrapped
after opposition from some South Sudan officials.
"(South Sudan) is such an interesting market because people
see it as a blank canvass," said Gary Still, executive director
of a UK-based oil consultancy focused on Africa.
Details of the export volumes and the value of the deal
between Trafigura and South Sudan were not immediately
"Under the agreement, signed on 7th March, Trafigura will
purchase Dar Blend crude oil from the Republic of South Sudan,"
the company said in an emailed statement in response to a
question from Reuters. "The crude oil will be delivered to Port
Sudan for export via pipeline."
A document from South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum,
reviewed by Reuters, confirmed the agreement. It said production
of Dar Blend was expected to start in the next few days.
Trafigura has previously made headlines over a $200 million
settlement with Ivory coast in a dispute with the country over
toxic waste dumping. The company denied responsibility for the
dumping or any wrongdoing.
South Sudan, which relied on oil revenues for around 98
percent of income, pumped around 350,000 barrels per day before
a row with Khartoum prompted it to shut production last year.
The landlocked country must pump its oil to the Red Sea via
a pipeline across former civil war foe Sudan to Port Sudan to
sell it on international markets.
Early last year, Juba accused the North of seizing over $800
million in oil revenues which the government in Khartoum said
provided compensation for unpaid transit fees.
One of the disputed cargoes was bought by Trafigura.
Trafigura said at the time it had made "significant efforts" to
confirm legal title of the oil.
The proceeds from the cargo, worth around 58 million euros
($74.58 million), were later seized by an English court to
A court document dated November 7 and seen by Reuters showed
that a settlement had been reached although some of the details
Trafigura declined to comment on the settlement.
It was not clear how oil revenues would be shared between
Sudan and South Sudan as part of the new Trafigura agreement.
Trade sources said they expected a large portion of the
exports ultimately to be delivered to China where some
refineries are equipped to process South Sudan's crude.
Dar Blend and Nile Blend grades from South Sudan have
previously been sold to a wide range of buyers including trading
houses Vitol and Arcadia as well as ChinaOil and Unipec.