JUBA, April 5 — South Sudan seeks to become the 19th member of the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) as the east African country plans to boost its oil production following years of decline due to conflict.
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, petroleum minister, said joining APPO would help the world’s youngest nation to better understand the global petroleum trade and share experience with fellow oil producers in the continent.
“South Sudan wants to learn how the oil industry is operating in Africa. We will work to make sure that South Sudan is already a member in the next meeting of APPO,” Gatkuoth told state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation (SSBC) from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where is he attending the 7th APPO Conference & Exhibition.
APPO, a grouping of petroleum producing countries, in African was formed in 1987 to promote cooperation in the oil industry.
This year’s gathering brings together heads of oil corporations and ministers on the African continent to come up with decisions to guide the growth of Africa’s energy sector.
According to the World Bank, South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for around 60 percent of its gross domestic product.
But after the young nation descended into civil war in late 2013, oil production declined from 350,000 in 2011 to less than 130,000 barrels per day in 2014 amid soaring inflation.
Gatkuoth said he used to event to invite potential investors to come to the east African country and explore opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
He said 70 percent of the country’s oil reserves currently remain unexploited.
“For us, Africa must champion the oil industry in the world and also sell Africa’s potential,” Gatkuoth said added.
Following the signing of a new peace deal in September 2018, conflict has reduced and previously closed oilfields have reopened, which helped raise oil output to nearly 200,000 barrels per day in the last six months.