Natural resources, energy and environment
South Sudan’s by far the most important natural resource is the large deposits of oil near the border with Sudan, mainly in the states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei. The oil, like natural gas, exports. In addition, there are deposits of iron, copper, zinc, gold and silver, but the mining of these metals is insignificant.
Oil deposits have been known since the 1920s, but it was not until 1999 that commercial extraction began. Today’s South Sudan was then part of Sudan, which in 2011 was divided into the states of Sudan and South Sudan. At the split, about 75 percent of oil resources went to South Sudan. But the only two lines that South Sudan can use to transport the oil to the port of export in Port Sudan on the Red Sea are through Sudan. To use these lines, South Sudan pays fees to the neighboring country in the north.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by South Sudan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Until 2012, oil generated good export income in South Sudan, but subsequent conflicts with both Sudan and the country have resulted in a significant reduction in oil money (see further Current policy and Economic overview).
Foreign companies compete to map and exploit oil resources. However, a few years after the start of the extraction, Western companies, such as Canadian Talisman Energy and Swedish Lundin Oil / Lundin Petroleum, decreased their operations in Sudan, following reports that the government had displaced local people near oil wells. The Western companies were occupied by Asian companies such as Indian ONGC, Malaysian Petronas and Chinese CNPC. Nowadays, Western companies are re-operating, such as French Total and American Exxon Mobil, as well as Arab companies such as Kuwaiti Kufpec.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, SSOM stands for South Sudan. Visit itypeusa for more information about South Sudan.
There is a great lack of electricity in South Sudan, partly because the electricity grid is so poorly developed. Only a few percent of the population have continuous access to electricity, most of them live in the capital Juba. Diesel-powered local generators are the most common way of generating electricity. Municipal power plants with local distribution networks are only available in some of the larger cities. Most power plants are powered by oil or coal.
The huge water resources give South Sudan the opportunity to greatly expand electricity generation. A number of projects were at the planning stage before the civil war broke out in 2013, but then stopped.
Warnings have come about serious environmental threats in the wake of oil recovery. In the oil-rich state of Unity, dangerous levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic have been measured in the wells of the locals. There have also been fears that the emissions will spread to the world’s largest inland wetland, Suddträsken north of Juba.
South Sudan has a rich wildlife, but during the civil war in the 2010s came reports of serious shootings of many kinds of animals, including elephants, giraffes and antelopes. Many animals were hunted mainly for their meat, while the elephants were killed for ivory.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
59 kilo oil equivalents (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
39 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
1 496 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.1 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
39.1 percent (2015)
Accusations of flight fears against refugee camps
The government of Juba accuses Sudan of having bombed a refugee camp in Unity State, near the border with Sudan. The Sudanese military denies the allegations.
New rebel group attacks city
The newly formed rebel group South Sudan’s Liberation Army (SSLA) attacks the city of Mayom in the state of Unity State. At least 75 people are killed in the attack.
Commissions should resolve conflicts
During resumed negotiations, Sudan and South Sudan agree to set up a series of commissions to resolve the remaining problems, not least the border conflicts, between the countries.
Decision on new capital
The government decides to move the capital from Juba to Ramciel in the state of Unity State in central South Sudan.
Continued fighting in Jonglei
Hundreds of people are killed in land conflicts between livestock people. The fighting is exacerbated by a good supply of small arms as a result of the long civil war.
The transitional government is being replaced by a new permanent government. The purpose is to better represent all the new groups of the new state. But the DIN-dominated SPLM maintains a firm grip on power.
South Sudan becomes independent
The South declares itself independently. The new country is named South Sudan. Despite the tense situation at the border of Abyei, Sudan recognizes the new state and President Omar al-Bashir is attending the festivities in South Sudan’s capital Juba.
Peace Force to Abyei
In an attempt to settle the conflict, the north and south sides sign an agreement to withdraw their troops from Abyei and allow a peace force from Ethiopia to monitor the area.
The north side occupies Abyei
The talks between the north and the south collapse after the referendum in southern Sudan, where the government suspects that the north side is trying to overthrow self-government. Conflicts are intensified both in southern Sudan (in Jonglei) and between the north and south sides. The south side is deploying forces in Abyei and in March the north side’s military enters and occupies the oil district. The SPLA forces are retiring, while large sections of the civilian population are being driven out of Abyei.
Resounding yes to independence
Virtually all participants – 98.8 percent – vote for independence for southern Sudan when the referendum on the area’s future status is held January 9-15. The turnout is reported to be extremely high, with as many as 98 percent of eligible voters going to the polls. In connection with the referendum, fighting in Abyei erupts, with at least 30 casualties. Otherwise, the referendum has been reported to have been calm. The referendum that would have been held simultaneously in Abyei has been postponed indefinitely.