South Sudan will be able to resume oil production before the end of the month, the African nation’s oil minister said on Tuesday after negotiations with Arab Sudan concluded successfully.
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who led four days of talks between the two Sudans in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, also said that the countries had agreed to restart exports and withdraw their troops from the area surrounding their disputed border.
The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan agreed in January to demilitarize the border region.
Landlocked South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in July 2011, had suspended its daily petroleum output of some 350,000 barrels a year before amid a price dispute with the north which needs the entirety of its oil production, estimated at 115,000 barrels per day, to meet domestic demand. Khartoum confiscated South Sudanese oil exports in 2012 to make up for what it said where unpaid transit fees.
As recently as last April, hostilities broke out when Sudanese air forces reportedly bombed oilfields near the border and the South raided a town there.
Tuesday’s deal did not finalize ownership of the border areas. Rather a team of African Union experts will make recommendations to the governments in Juba and Khartoum about how to resolve the dispute. Interior ministers from both countries plan to meet next week to discuss the opening of border crossings and ease the movements of citizens between them.