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Chinese expert calls for training of local oil sector engineers

Authors: Emmanuel Akile | Daniel Danis | Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kang Jingcheng, Vice President of China High-Tech Industry Association speaks to Eye Radio's Emmanuel Joseph Akile in Beijing, China on Monday August 12, 2019.

A Chinese technology expert says South Sudan should invest more in training its engineers so that they take full control of the oil sector.

Kang Jingcheng, who is also the Vice President of China high-tech industry association says the vast majority of engineers in the South Sudan oil fields are Chinese. Some are Malaysians, Indians and other nationalities.

South Sudan lacks enough trained personal that can meet its technical challenges in drilling, enhancing oil recovery, and increasing production.

Analysts suggest that the oil companies owned by these 3 main countries have been doing little more than keeping their operations running, despite repeated attempts by the South Sudanese government to get them to invest.

The government last year requested the help of countries like South Africa and Saudi Arabia to extend their capacity-building programs to South Sudanese engineers and explore and develop new oil blocks.

Kang Jingcheng said it is important to train the local workforce so that South Sudan maximizes on its oil production and resource management.

“To develop, a vast pool of the engineering talents should be nurtured to deal with various engineering problems,” Mr. Jingcheng told Eye Radio in an exclusive interview in Beijing, China on Monday.

Recently, South Sudan signed a deal with South Africa to help build an oil refinery that could produce 60 000 barrels a day, train workers and engineers and awarded exploration rights for several new oil blocks.

Mr. Jingcheng believes working with experts and engineers who are already involved in the production of South Sudan oil would be more ideal and a fast way of achieving local ownership.

“I think in the future they should be operated, controlled daily by South Sudanese. This will be an entire need for South Sudan –may be to work with China –to train a large pool of engineering talents in South Sudan,” he added.

South Sudan has reportedly sought the help of the African Development Bank to review the country’s oil laws and build the capacity of its oil agencies.

The one year deal signed through the bank’s Legal Support Facility will also reexamine South Sudan’s Exploration and Production Sharing Agreements framework and model, and train officials on negotiating such agreements.

South Sudan is the third-largest oil-producing country in Africa — but expert believes 70 per cent of the country remains unexplored, and this requires strong laws and regulatory systems.

According to the NJ Ayuk, the Chief Executive of the law group, the review will “help attract more investment and strengthen relevant bodies including the petroleum and gas commission.”

The South Sudan Petroleum and Gas Commission is mandated to provide general policy direction on petroleum resources, supervise petroleum resource management, approve petroleum agreements on behalf of the government and ensure that they are consistent with the country’s laws.

Mr Ayuk said: “besides building confidence in South Sudan, the review will also see an increase in exploration activity and technology use as well as the establishment of local content policy.”

South Sudan is currently producing 150,000 barrels per day but is working on reaching its targets of 350,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Johannesburg-based Centurion Law Group which Mr. Ayuk works says that South Sudan needs to build a brand new future for itself as East Africa’s most mature producing province.

He told the East African newspaper that the group shall also scrutinize the role of Nile Petroleum, which is charged with the management of the country’s oil resource.

In 2018, the Global Witness said NilePet was operating almost entirely unregulated because the elites in South Sudan had taken control of it.

Global Witness says that as of March 2016, Nilepet had received nearly 4 billion U.S dollars in oil advances from various foreign sources.

Last month, President Salva Kiir warned the new Minister of Petroleum against requesting or accepting oil advances before the actual sale of South Sudan’s crude oil to the international market.

Kiir said the government should only receive money that is generated from the oil sale and not loans.

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