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Sudan Energy Minister to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Inherited Crumbling Economy from Former Regime

Sudan Energy Minister to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Inherited Crumbling Economy from Former Regime

Monday, 9 March, 2020 - 06:45
Sudan’s Minister of Energy and Mining Adel Ali Ibrahim. (SUNA)
Khartoum – Ahmed Younes and Khalid Balola Ezrik

Sudan’s Minister of Energy and Mining Adel Ali Ibrahim accused companies affiliated with the regime of ousted president Omar al-Bashir of sparking a fuel crisis in the country aimed at achieving political goals or spurred by forces seeking to damage the economy.

He revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that 13 cases of corruption at the Energy and Mining Ministry will be referred to the general prosecutor.

Sudan’s oil production has dropped to 60,000 barrels per day, forcing authorities to turn to oil industry and South Sudan partners to cover the deficit and operate the Khartoum refinery. The refinery needs 100,000 barrels per day and covers nearly half of the country’s oil derivatives needs. The rest is imported.

The refinery meets 90 percent of the country’s benzene and 60 percent of its gasoline needs, he explained.

The minister added that oil derivative import companies operating since the time of the former regime owe debts to the government. They pledged in February to pay them and then stopped their imports.

“These companies disregarded the interests of the people and nation and have choked the country,” said Ibrahim.

He blamed the failure to immediately address the issue to the failure to provide foreign currency.

“The government inherited a financial and economic situation that has been in tatters for years,” he remarked, blaming its collapse on wrong policies adopted by the former regime.

“These policies ruined productive projects and created millions of dollars in debts to foreign and local electricity companies,” he continued.

“We inherited an empty treasury and major debts to Arab, Islamic and regional funds,” the minister stated. “Given the current situation, it is difficult to build a strategic reserve.”

Sudan currently imports four gasoline ships and one benzene and one cooking gas ship per month at a cost of 25 – 27 million dollars each.

Ibrahim spoke of medium- and long-term rescue plans to make up the deficit. He suggested raising production and providing funding to operations at state-owned fields after the withdrawal of companies.

“We want to raise production to meets the demands of the Khartoum refinery in order to cover local demand and stop loans,” he explained to Asharq Al-Awsat.

A detailed plan was prepared with local and Chinese companies aimed at raising production at oil fields. The cost and funding options were placed, but the plan faces hurdles in the shape of security instability in oil regions and fluctuations in the local currency, said Ibrahim.

Sudan has received offers to explore new oil fields from Norwegian, Swedish, Emirati, Kuwaiti and Turkish companies and the Energy and Mining Ministry is studying them.

“The Sudanese revolution’s values of transparency, freedom and democracy encourage investors to invest in energy and mining,” he revealed. He highlighted promising oil fields in the Blue Nile states, al-Jazirah, Kordofan, Darfur, Red Sea regions and central and northern Sudan.

“We have drafted a rescue plan to address the damage that affected the oil sector,” he added.

Ibrahim expressed optimism that the oil derivatives crisis will be resolved, saying the workers in the sector are exerting great efforts and are determined to properly exploit resources and reform the damaged sector.

Furthermore, he accused the former regime of concealing information about oil, saying it handled the issue as if it were handling a security file. Ibrahim vowed that his ministry will be completely transparent in presenting facts and figures to the people.

He cited corruption that led to “suspicious” dealings in the oil sector, which forced the ousted regime to conceal information about production. Thirteen cases of corruption at the ministry will be referred to the general prosecution.

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