South Sudan plans environmental audit of oil fields in move to curb pollution

South Sudan is launching a tender for a comprehensive environmental audit of all its oil-producing fields in a bid to reduce pollution following years of neglect, the government said on Friday.

Oil sales bring in almost all the revenue of the nation, which has boosted output to stand at about 180,000 barrels per day in October, as it struggles to rebuild an economy shattered by five years of civil war.

But with the petroleum sector historically causing a loss of grazing land, soil and water contamination as well as other health risks in and around oil-producing areas, the government wants to strengthen enforcement and regulatory oversight.

“South Sudan is now faced with the challenge of balancing developmental needs with the spirit of environmental protection,” the government said in a statement.

Petroleum Minister Awow Daniel Chuang said the environmental audit would be conducted ahead of any new exploration and drilling in South Sudan, which wants to ramp up production and intends to offer 14 new oil blocks for exploration in a licensing round early in 2020.

Tender pre-qualification documents for conducting the full environmental audit are available at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba or on its website until Jan. 20, the government said.