September 20, 2013 / 7:01 PM / in 4 years

South Sudan raises oil output to 240,000 bpd, most since shutdown

JUBA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - South Sudan has increased crude oil output to 240,000 barrels per day (bpd), its petroleum ministry said on Friday, reaching the highest level since it resumed oil exports through Sudan following a thaw in their relations.

Landlocked South Sudan agreed with Sudan in March to restart crude exports through the north, its only access to markets.

Sudan threatened in June to close two export pipelines as it accused South Sudan of supporting for rebels in its territory but they defused the row this month at a summit of both presidents.

South Sudan’s petroleum ministry said that of the total 240,000 bpd, 170,000 bpd came from fields in Upper Nile state producing the heavy sour Dar Blend, its main crude product.

The rest comes from oilfields in Unity, where output is mixed to produce the light sweet Nile Blend, ministry spokesman Nicodemus Ajak Bior said.

“We are working towards increasing our daily production as long as the atmosphere between the two countries remains conducive, as it is now, for the benefit of both countries,” he said.

South Sudan used to pump 300,000 bpd until it closed all wells in January 2012 in a row over pipeline fees with Khartoum. It hopes for production of 250,000 bpd by the end of the year, the ministry said this month.

Both sides agreed in March to defuse the row and resume oil flows but opening hundreds of wells proved a challenge after the shutdown. Some oilfields were also damaged during weeks of border skirmishes between the two countries in April 2012. (Reporting by Andrew Green; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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