South Sudan signs oil deal with Israel
Israel has entered into an oil deal with the government of South Sudan
South Sudan says it has signed an
agreement with several Israeli oil companies, a potentially significant
strategic move that will consolidate the Jewish state's relations with
the fledgling, oil-rich East African state.
It will also bolster Israeli moves to counter Iranian inroads into
the Red Sea and a major gunrunning route from the Revolutionary Guards
base at Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf to the Gaza Strip via Sudan.
South Sudan, which became independent of Arab-ruled Sudan in July
2011 after a decades-long civil war, is locked in a frequently violent
confrontation over its oil reserves with the military-run Khartoum
regime, an ally of Iran, under President Omar al-Bashir.
Sudan has become a battleground in the mostly clandestine war between
Israel and the Islamic Republic, which funnels missiles and other arms
for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip through the Red Sea.
South Sudan's petroleum and mining minister, Dhieu Dau, announced the
oil deal last week after he returned from a visit to Israel.
He said negotiations were ongoing with Israeli companies, which he did not identify, seeking to invest in South Sudan.
There's just one slight problem... South Sudan is landlocked.
South Sudan sits on around 80 percent of Sudan oil reserves, which
total 6.6 billion barrels, according to the BP Statistical Review.
This gives the south, which is overwhelmingly Christian and animist,
immense economic leverage over the Muslim Arab regime in Khartoum, which
depended on oil revenues to prop up its economy.
But Khartoum controls the only export pipelines from the landlocked
south that run through the north to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Most of the oil fields lie along the border between the two parts of
Sudan, and there have been repeated military clashes as both sides seek
control of the reserves.
There has been talk of building a 1,000-mile export pipeline from
South Sudan across Kenya to the Indian Ocean that would free Juba from
reliance on Khartoum's pipelines.
But no definite plans for the project, expected to cost around $2 billion, have yet materialized.
It may be that Israeli companies are seeking to help out in that
regard -- if only to undermine the Islamic-oriented Khartoum regime and
its alliance with Tehran, and to gain access to the Nile River, Egypt's
primary source of water and a strategic target.
Labels: oil, South Sudan