South Sudan needs investment from the energy industry in the form of money and technology if the country is to rebuild and stabilize itself.
That was the point that Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamberand CEO of the Centurion Law Group, made in a keynote at the opening of the South Sudan Oil & Power Conference & Exhibition in Juba.
Attended by hundreds of industry executives and dignitaries from South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Somalia, Norway, the United States and South Africa, the conference was opened by First Vice President H.E. Taban Deng Gai and Minister of Petroleum Awow Daniel Chuang, along with several cabinet ministers.
AEC Chairman used this platform to advocate for better stakeholder cooperation, and urged all political factions to make concessions and respect the peace agreement. “The presence of oil should incentivize dialogue between all parties to the current conflict and push for resolution of minor differences to be resolved,” he declared.
In line with the conference’s focus on finance, the Chamber called on the government to continue working towards creating an enabling environment for businesses in order to attract more investments into the country. “South Sudan’s oil industry will do even better when there is a good governance, free-market capitalism, limited-government and individual freedoms because it helps the people at every level of society to prosper. The government and the oil industry must embrace it and respect the sanctity of contracts,” said Nj Ayuk.
In order to increase production, he also urged the oil industry to speed up exploration programs and keep working on putting back damaged oil fields into production. “We applaud CNPC for its recent 300 millions barrel discovery in South Sudan and hope to see the government speeding up approvals for field development plans,” he added.
As South Sudan launched a new licensing round, Nj Ayuk reminded the country’s authorities of the challenge of having a transparent bidding round and of attracting highly capable companies to explore oil and gas. “The chamber will support South Sudan without reservation in this effort, because oil and gas is the backbone of the economy,” he declared.
The Chamber is supporting several domestic capacity building initiatives to bring energy investment to South Sudan, and Nj Ayuk reminded the audience that “it is important to encourage young men and women who find opportunities, have ideas for innovative services in oil and gas, those who have the courage to deploy capital, accept risk, and make it happen. They deserve to be supported.”
The Chamber strongly believes that local content and women empowerment is key today more than ever, and its Executive Chairman urged the government and the oil industry to enact special programs to promote women. “You can’t be a true oil man if you don’t support women to grow in the industry. When we support women in oil and gas we support the African family because women invest more in the family unit today in Africa,” Nj Ayuk concluded.
South Sudan looks forward to a renewal of economic ties with Russia, he emphasized, noting that Russian companies had conducted extensive feasibility studies of South Sudan’s energy and mineral deposits prior to the country’s independence in 2011, after which the sub-Saharan landlocked country plunged into civil war and a conflict with its neighbor Sudan.
“We have other [non-oil] resources that can be tapped, and we would like Russia to participate in that, especially in the mineral sector, and we have the mineral sector, and we have already had extensive contacts with leading Russian companies, notably Gazprom…We have been in touch with them, they are interested to invest in the petroleum sector,” Nhial said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
In January, South Sudan’s former Foreign Minister Benjamin Barnaba said that Russian diplomatic efforts helped bring the two countries back on track toward reconciliation.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Energy Chamber.