A deal has been reached between Sudan and South Sudan that would see oil start flowing again from the south’s reserves in the next two weeks. A year-long dispute has kept both nations from profiting in the oil industry.
The decision was reached early on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at a meeting mediated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the African Union.
Under the terms of the deal, which was signed by South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum and his Sudanese counterpart, Mohammed Abdel-Gadir, both countries are to order oil companies to resume the flow of oil in the next few weeks.
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011. Since then, in addition to an uneasy military standoff between the former civil war foes, there have been several disputes over the oil. South Sudan controls most of the oil fields, but the infrastructure for exporting the oil exists mainly in Sudan.
At the end of 2012, South Sudan completely shut down oil production, which had been a key part of the economies of both nations.
An agreement to resume oil production had already been reached in September, but a timeline was never agreed.
While the deal is positive news for both nations, military tensions at the border remain a concern. Both sides agreed on Monday to pull back from the border and create a demilitarized zone, but observers are sceptical that this will actually hold. Troop withdrawals are scheduled to start within a week.
Before South Sudan declared independence, a brutal civil war in the north and south of Sudan between 1983 and 2005 claimed an estimated 2 million lives.
Clashes in March and April of 2012 nearly pulled the former foes into a full-scale conflict.
mz/jlw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)