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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        11  February 2011

Petronas confident on Sudan oil

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Petronas is confident its oil business in Sudan would not be affected after the people of Southern Sudan, where the oil fields are sited, voted for independence last month.

"We are optimistic of a positive outcome with regard to matters relating to the oil industry, which is critical for the socio-economic sustainability in north and south Sudan," a Petronas official said.

The anxiety over the future of Petronas' operations in Sudan arose after the south voted to split from the north in a referendum conducted in January.

The official results of the vote, released earlier this week and confirmed early reports of overwhelming support for the split, showed nearly 99 percent of the people in the south wanted independence from the north.

The secession of south Sudan is expected to be formalised in July and a number of issues are yet to be sorted out, chief among them the petroleum revenue rights of the north to the oil fields in the south.

Petronas has been in Sudan since 1997 after being invited by the country to pursue exploration and development works in two concession areas.

Petronas has long-term ties with Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and now it has to build a similar relationship with authorities in the south ahead of the secession.

"In Sudan, we are closely monitoring the development with regard to the referendum, and we have been taking adequate steps and actions to best serve our rights and interests,'' the Petronas official said.

"At the same time, we have had and are in continuous discussions and high-level engagements with all relevant officials and parties, including with the government of south Sudan, on our intention and way forward in growing our business," the official said.

Sudan is an important cog in Petronas' international operations. Last year, Sudan's production of crude oil accounted for 26 percent of the total international output in barrels of oil equivalent.

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