September 15, 2012 - 10:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - South Sudan may resume pumping oil as soon as November, China's ambassador to Africa said, adding Beijing was optimistic leaders in Juba will soon reach pricing terms with Sudan on piping crude through the country from which it recently split, Reuters reported.
China's special envoy to Africa Zhong Jianhua has made several trips to the landlocked African nation that seceded from Sudan in mid-2011, holding talks with officials from Khartoum and Juba where Chinese oil companies are heavily invested.
South Sudan halted oil flows in January during its dispute with Khartoum over how much it should pay to export crude through pipelines in Sudanese territory to a Red Sea port.
Fighting along the 1,800-km (1,200-mile) border threatened to turn into a full-scale war in April when the South seized the Heglig oil-producing region long held by Sudan.
Tensions have lowered to a point where Beijing envisions "several agreements" being signed in September, Zhong told Reuters.
"If the two presidents (of Sudan and South Sudan) meet sometime around the twentieth of September and sign several agreements, I will not be surprised," said Zhong, who made his third trip to South Sudan several weeks ago.
"We would expect that they will probably still carry out negotiations for other matters such as demilitarization, cushion zones between borders, and the withdrawal of troops, so that by the end of the year - the resumption of oil production by November - that is what we expect," he said.
Sudan and South Sudan have held border security talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, facing a UN Security Council deadline of September 22 to reach a deal or risk sanctions.