On Saturday, South Sudan resumed pumping 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from the Toma South oilfield, where production had been suspended since 2013 due to civil war, Sudan’s oil and gas minister Azhari Abdulqader said.
Once maintenance work on five previously suspended oil fields is completed, it is expected to increase production to 80,000 bpd with the country’s oil output reaching 210,000 bpd by the end of the year.
Income from oil accounts for 98 percent of the country’s budget.
Insecurity and the post-2014 oil price crash left the economy in tatters. But the increased oil output will revive South Sudan’s economic fortunes, according to Kimo Adiebo, an economics professor at the University of Juba.
“This increases government’s share in oil production and eventually oil revenue,” Adiebo told Al Jazeera.
“Additional oil revenue would enable the government to stick to its policy of not printing money – borrowing from the central bank – and hence more control of inflation and the exchange rate, leading to gradual macroeconomic stability.”
The most intense fighting between rebels and South Sudanese government troops took place at the Toma South oilfields, just over 30km from the border with Sudan, damaging oil production facilities.
But the country’s oil crisis could have been avoided, Professor Paul Moorcraft, director at Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, said.
“Juba cutting the oil off at the start of the post-independence war with Khartoum was the biggest self-inflicted political injury since Hitler declared war on the US,” said Moorcraft.
“Clearly, independence has been a catastrophe for the south and a disaster for the north. Yet, in Africa, politics always trumps economic logic.”
The resumption of oil activities is part of a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement between President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and other rebel groups to end the country’s civil war.