OVL temporarily shuts oilfields in South Sudan

ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC),

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today said it has temporarily shutdown oilfields in South Sudan following escalation of violence in the world's youngest nation.

OVL, which has stakes in two oil projects in South Sudan, also evacuated all of its 11 executives working in the African nation, the company said in a statment here.

The firm holds 25% stake in the Greater Pioneer Operating Project which produces 37,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and 24.125% in Block 5A that produced 4,600 bpd.

"Following the deteriorating security situation in the country (South Sudan) from December 15, 2013, the Joint Operating Companies decided to temporarily shut down the operations in their oilfields," the statement said.

The shutdown was executed methodically as per its standard shutdown procedure, ensuring safety of personnel and equipments and smooth resumption of operation immediately after normalisation of the security situation.

"Following the shutdown, the production from the oilfields was completely stopped from December 22," it said.

The Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC) produces close to 37,000 bpd (OVL share 9,250 bpd) from Block 1,2,4 while SUDD Petroleum Operating Company (SPOC), where OVL has 24.125% stake, produces close to 4,600 bpd (OVL share 1,100 bpd) from Block 5A.

Other partners in GPOC are China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) with 40% stake, Petronas of Malaysia has 30% and Nilepet of South Sudan the remaining 5%. In Block 5A, Petronas has 67.875% and Nilepet 8%.

"Due to the adverse security situation, OVL in coordination with the Indian Embassy in South Sudan has evacuated all its 11 personnel posted in South Sudan. Other partners of OVL in the assets have also evacuated most of its personnel from the country," the statement said.

OVL said it is closely monitoring the security situation in the country and is in constant interaction with its partners in the assets and the Indian Embassy at Juba. "Operations will be resumed once the situation is normalised."

Fighting in South Sudan, which broke out when rebel forces loyal to deposed South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar attempted a coup, has already claimed as many as 500 lives, including Indian soldiers working as United Nations peacekeepers.

The US has evacuated its 380 officials and private citizens to Nairobi and other locations along with about 300 others.

South Sudan seceded from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country's oil output. Landlocked South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa's third- largest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola.

The oil produced in OVL's fields and other projects in the country are exported through pipelines across neighbouring Sudan.

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