Sudan paramilitaries seize key oil station, witnesses say

Saturday October 07 2023

Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces fighters ride in the back of a technical vehicle in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum, Sudan on April 23, 2023. PHOTO | RAPID SUPPORT FORCES | AFP


Paramilitary forces battling the army in Sudan on Friday seized a strategic oil pumping station east of the capital Khartoum, witnesses said.

The facility in Al-Aylafoun region is about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Khartoum. It pumps oil for export from both Sudan and neighbouring South Sudan through pipelines to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Residents of Al-Aylafoun confirmed to AFP in Wad Madani, southeast of Khartoum, that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had seized the pumping station. It is one of four such facilities in the country.

Technicians, engineers and other workers have been evacuated, the residents said.

Exports of crude from Sudan and South Sudan have continued despite the war which began on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Read: Sudan war: Juba fears oil exports will halt


But if the Al-Aylafoun station stops pumping, oil exports will be affected.

South Sudan split from the north in 2011 with three-quarters of the formerly united country's oil reserves but it remains dependent on Sudan's infrastructure for exports.

According to the World Bank, oil accounts for around 90 percent of South Sudan's revenue.

Khartoum earns income from fees for the transit of the South's crude.

According to the bp Statistical Review of World Energy, the South produced 153,000 barrels per day in 2021, while Sudan's output was 64,000 bpd.

A committee which said it represents "independent lawyers" in Sudan said fighting between the RSF and the army around Al-Aylafoun continued Friday, causing civilian casualties.

The group accused the paramilitaries of "looting and forced displacement of the population" and warned against air strikes on the populated area to which residents of Khartoum had fled.

Read: Mass looting engulfs Khartoum

The war has killed nearly 7,500 people, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (Acled) project.

Battles have displaced almost 4.3 million people within Sudan, in addition to around 1.2 million more who have fled across borders.