(Adds details from trip to oilfields)
KHARTOUM, Aug 27 (Reuters) - South Sudan has resumed pumping 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from the Toma South oilfield, where production had been suspended since 2013, the Sudanese oil minister Azhari Abdulqader said. Production at five of the previously suspended oilfields was expected to reach 80,000 bpd after maintenance work is completed by the end of the year, Abdulqader told a news conference in Khartoum.
South Sudan’s oil output currently stands at 130,000 bpd and is expected to reach 210,000 bpd by year-end, he added.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 when output peaked at 350,000 bpd but two years later plunged into civil war. At the time fighting started, production was at about 245,000 barrels per day.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands, displaced an estimated quarter of South Sudan’s population of 12 million and ruined its economy that heavily relies on crude oil production.
South Sudan’s oil is shipped to international markets via a pipeline through Sudan.
The area in which Toma South oilfields lie saw the most intense fighting between rebels and government troops, damaging oil production facilities.
During a visit on Saturday to Toma South, some 20 miles to the border with Sudan, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, South Sudan’s Oil Minister, said the resumption of production in blocks 1, 2 and 4, will bring an additional output of 45,000 barrels per day.
He said the operator of the fields, Greater Nile Petroleum Operation Company, and staff from his ministry were working to ensure full production.
“They will be here in Toma South working seven days a week, 24 hours a day to make sure that the production is not interrupted and also to make sure the central processing facility is operational,” Gatkuoth said.
The return to production and pumping is part of a cease fire and power-sharing agreement that was reached earlier this month when President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and other rebel groups signed a peace deal meant to end the civil war. “I can tell everyone, the production can be more if peace is there and if we are determined to nourished it,” Abdulqader said. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelziz, Additional reporting by Denis Dumo; writing by Sami Aboudi and George Obulutsa)
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