Sudan, South Sudan settle oil dispute

Story highlights

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the deal Saturday
  • While most oil wells are in the south, the pipelines and port are in the north
  • South Sudan halted oil production in January after accusing Sudan of stealing

Negotiating teams from Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to end a dispute on oil payments to allow the resumption of southern oil exports through Sudan's territories, Sudan's state-run Ashorooq TV reported early Saturday, citing official sources.

The negotiating teams met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the head of the African Union, the state-run TV station said. Both countries still have to discuss when to resume southern oil exports through the north.

Sudan's economy has suffered since the separation of South Sudan last year, which took with it nearly 75% of the country's oil wealth. While most of the oil wells are in the south, the pipelines and port to export the oil are in the north.

The agreement covers how much the landlocked South Sudan will pay to use those facilities.

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South Sudan halted oil production in late January after accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million worth of its crude. Sudan said it had confiscated the oil to make up for unpaid fees.

The negotiating teams agreed that Sudan will receive $25.80 per barrel that passes through pipelines from the south to the north as an export tax and refining cost, Ashorooq TV reported. The teams are expected to meet later Saturday to discuss territorial disputes.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the deal Saturday, saying it "reflects leadership and a new spirit of compromise on both sides."

"The Government of Sudan deserves credit for taking this step," Clinton said in a statement. "If Sudan would now also take the steps to peace in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, and if it will respect the rights of all citizens, it can likewise give its people a brighter future."

Border clashes have brought the countries to the brink of war and left South Sudan coping with a massive humanitarian crisis as people flee the fighting.

The South Sudan state of Upper Nile has been flooded with refugees crossing the border from Sudan. In total, aid agencies estimate that at least 150,000 refugees from Sudan are currently in South Sudan.

Regarding two areas in the Blue Nile and Nubia, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, a rebel force in the border region, agreed to a partial cease-fire so humanitarian aid could reach victims of hostilities, the state-run TV station said.