CAIRO, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Sudan’s oil minister says the country will drill more than 250 wells in the coming year, aiming to boost its energy reserves by 65.4 million barrels of oil and 300 billion cubic feet of gas, state media reported on Tuesday.

When South Sudan seceded in 2011, it took with it three-quarters of the former unified country’s oil wealth, estimated at 5 billion barrels of proven reserves by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

drilling field

Oil exports had been the main source of the foreign currency used to support the Sudanese pound and to pay for food and other imports, and the loss of the south hit the economy hard.

The 253 exploratory wells planned for 2015 could attract foreign investment and help pay down the country’s high debt, Oil Minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad told Sudan’s parliament, according to state news agency SUNA.

Sudan’s inflation rate has neared 50 percent at times in the past year, after Khartoum slashed costly fuel subsidies that much of the population relied on.

The rising cost of living in the country has stirred social discontent, prompting protests last year in which dozens were killed and hundreds were injured.

 

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