(Jok Solomun/Reuters)


JUBA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan Thursday began consultations aimed at revising and reforming its Petroleum Act 2012 to be able to regulate the downstream operations in the oil sector.

Puot Kang Chol, the Minister of Petroleum said the existing petroleum law only covers the upstream operations.

Kang added that the existing discrepancies within the oil sector need to be addressed during the ongoing consultative meetings organized by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC).

"If you look at the current Petroleum Act that we have, it does not cover much the downstream, where we talk basically about things to do with petroleum economics, depots, petrol stations, and now we will be coming up with oil refineries, we must be regulated by laws," he said during the opening of the consultative meeting held in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

The NCAC is mandated under the 2018 revitalized peace agreement to supervise reforms in the economic and governance sectors.

Kang noted the need to reform laws that would see the management of state-owned Nile Petroleum Company Ltd (NILEPET) change from the ministry of presidential affairs to the ministry of petroleum.

Downstream operations are oil and gas processes that occur after the production phase to the point of sale, while upstream operations cover exploration activities, which include creating geological surveys and obtaining land rights, and production activities, which include onshore and offshore drilling.

"We need an Act that will foster and push progress within the sector, we want to come out with the best Act. If we are not regulated by laws we will commit a lot of mistakes," Kang said.

Moses Makur Deng, the Governor of the Bank of South Sudan, said that the current Petroleum Act was imposed on the country, adding that the revised law must address environmental issues as well as community welfare.

"The current Act is superficial and was imposed on South Sudanese, so I am warning this time that this dimension must be taken care of properly, we should not be seen as receiving anything from anywhere we should own the laws," Deng said.

He said the revised law should protect the interests of national staff, cautioning that any law that ignores these facts will remain superficial even if it is amended.

Gichira Kibara, the NCAC chairperson, said that the amendments within the oil sector need to be informed by real needs and must protect the interests of South Sudan.

"The idea of reform is to have a much better sector than we have now," Kibara said.


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