South Sudan is planning to increase its oil production from 130,000 to 350,000 barrels a day despite the ongoing armed conflict, Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth said Sunday.
“Prices of oil have gone up, which is good news for South Sudan,” Gatkuoth told an academic symposium in the capital Juba.
He said technical preparations had been made to reopen oil fields in the northern Unity region, making it possible to increase national production to 350,000 barrels a day by early January.
A three-year armed conflict pitting President Salva Kiir against rebel leader Riek Machar has slashed oil output in one of the world's most oil-dependent states.
Fighting between the army and rebels over control of oil fields has led to oil wells being damaged and employees being evacuated.
Gatkuoth downplayed the possibility that fighting would continue to hamper oil production, saying the government would provide maximum security to oil workers and pipelines.
The drop in oil production has badly damaged the country's economy, with foreign exchange reserves now close to exhaustion and inflation soaring.
About 3.7 million people – 30 per cent of South Sudan’s population - are facing severe food insecurity, according to the UN.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced about 3 million people.