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Bashir in the threat to block pipeline

KHARTOUM, June 22 – Sudan will block the landlocked south\’s use of its pipeline infrastructure if there is no deal on oil ahead of southern independence next month, President Omar al-Bashir said on Tuesday.

"I give the south three alternatives for the oil. The north is to continue getting its share, or the north gets fees for every barrel that the south sends to Port Sudan," Bashir told supporters at a rally in the Red Sea city, which is the main terminal for all of Sudan\’s oil exports, from both north and south.

"If they don\’t accept either of these, we\’re going to block the pipeline," he said.

Senior Sudanese officials are locked in talks in Addis Ababa aimed at forging agreement on a raft of unresolved issues between the two sides prior to partition on July 9, and no deal has yet been reached on the key oil sector.

Some 80 percent of Sudan\’s crude output, which currently stands at around 470,000 barrels per day, is pumped from the south, according to the country\’s oil minister.

But all of the key oil infrastructure, including refineries and pipelines, lie in the north, and Khartoum is desperate to partially offset the imminent fall in its oil revenues by getting the south to pay for the use of this infrastructure.

Under the existing revenue-sharing arrangement, the north gets 50 percent of southern oil receipts, but when this comes to an end next month, Khartoum\’s income will fall by 36.5 percent, the Finance Minister Ali Mahmud said last week.

The government is already struggling to cope with soaring inflation, a weakening currency and huge foreign debt, estimated at around $38 billion, and Mahmud made a similar threat to block southern oil exports unless Juba agreed to a price for renting the north\’s infrastructure.

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