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South Sudan raises oil output in Unity state to 30,000 bpd

By Andrew Green

JUBA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - South Sudan resumed pumping at the small El Tor oilfield, bringing production of waxy light crude in its Unity State to 30,000 barrels per day (bpd), its oil minister said on Thursday.

The landlocked African country has been increasing oil production since reaching a deal with arch foe Sudan to continue to use its oil export facilities and Port Sudan port, its only window to markets.

Sudan had earlier threatened to close the pipelines connecting the two countries in a row over alleged support for Sudanese rebels operating across the shared border.

South Sudan's Oil Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, told Reuters output resumed at El Tor on Thursday with more than 5,000 bpd. The field had been shut down in January 2012 with the rest of the country's wells when tensions with Sudan over oil fees escalated.

He said the total output at oilfields in Unity state, which is mixed to produce the light sweet Nile Blend, was now 30,000 bpd. Restarting production in the Unity state has been a challenge as some facilities were damaged during weeks of border skirmishes with Sudan in April 2012.

"If we complete the resumption for the whole northern oilfield in Unity State, we will now be in a position that the level of the production will be as at before the shutdown in January 2012, which was around 60,000 barrels per day," Dau said.

South Sudan also pumps some 170,000 bpd from fields in Upper Nile state to produce the heavy sour Dar Blend, its main crude product. The African country used to pump 300,000 bpd until the shutdown in January 2012.

China National Petroleum Corp, India's ONGC Videsh and Malaysia's Petronas are the main firms running the country's oilfields. (Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by James Jukwey)