Sudan expects it will be able to launch a bidding round for oil and gas blocks in the country in the third quarter of 2019, Sudan’s Petroleum Minister Azhari Abdalla said on Tuesday.
“I really expect a lot of companies to come, particularly now since we are working … on the second phase of discussions with the United States so we can have this embargo lifted,” Abdalla told Reuters in another media appearance over the past week in which Sudan’s oil minister expressed optimism that with part of the U.S. sanctions lifted, the country would be able to attract companies to revive its stalled oil production.
Last week, Abdalla said at the Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town that Sudan felt “confident that now is really the time for a second boom in this country.”
South Sudan broke from Sudan in 2011 and took with it around 350,000 bpd in oil production. After South Sudan’s secession from Sudan, the two countries have been mutually dependent on oil revenues, because the south has 75 percent of the oil reserves, while the north has the only current transport route for the oil to international markets.
Some of the U.S. sanctions on Sudan were partially lifted in October 2017, but Sudan’s economy has failed to lift off since then. A severe economic crisis is raging in the country, where banks have put limits on withdrawals. The government has pledged a 15-month austerity program in hopes of stabilizing the economy. According to the IMF, Sudan’s economy will shrink by 2.3 percent this year, while inflation will reach 61.8 percent.
Sudan has seen its relations with the United States improving, and sanctions have been partially lifted. Sudan, however, is still on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism alongside North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
Sudan hopes the terrorism-sponsor label to be lifted next year, Abdalla told the Financial Times in an interview published on Sunday.
The oil ministry plans to put 30-35 new oil blocks up for bidding in the second half of 2019, the minister told FT.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com