Sudan-held Vitol oil tankers freed: industry source

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2012 2:03 AM
Sudan-held Vitol oil tankers freed: industry source

DUBAI (Reuters) - Two oil tankers carrying South Sudanese crude that were held by Sudan earlier this month chartered by oil trading giant Vitol were freed late on Sunday, an industry source told Reuters.

"The two tankers were freed last on Sunday and they are carrying a total of 1.6 million barrels," said the industry source familiar with the matter.

South Sudan shut down oil production over the weekend in protest over north Sudan seizing shipments in a dispute over how much landlocked South Sudan should pay to pump oil to Port Sudan in the north.

Vitol, one of the world's largest oil trading houses with average sales of over 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2010, is expanding its exploration and production interests in West Africa and Asia.

Oil is the lifeline of both countries' economies but the south's secession left Khartoum controlling just 125,000 bpd of production compared to South Sudan's 350,000 bpd.

Oil provides about 98 percent of South Sudan's income and is vital for developing an already poor country devastated by years of civil war.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr)