South Sudan Resumes Oil Production

After a 15-month hiatus, the world's newest nation is pumping oil again. It's a key step toward mending relations with Sudan, its former civil war foe. And it's a crucial step if South Sudan is to avoid economic collapse.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, the world's newest nation - South Sudan - has resumed oil production after a 15-month hiatus. This is a key step towards mending relations with its former civil war enemy foe, Sudan, it's also a key step in avoiding economic collapse.

Hannah McNeish reports.

HANNAH MCNEISH, BYLINE: Having fought Sudan for decades for its land and resources, South Sudan looked set to return to war again last year. A dispute over how much the newly independent nation should pay to transport its crude through the north escalated into weeks of border clashes.

But after switching on the first oil well at the Thar Jath field in South Sudan's unity state on Saturday, Oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau promised that the fighting was over, and the country's black gold would bring peace and prosperity to both Sudans.

STEPHEN DHIEU DAU: This is now a message that the government of South Sudan is committed to live in peace with Sudan and to share the benefits of the oil so the two countries must be viable.

MCNEISH: South Sudan, one of the most underdeveloped places in the world, has some of the worst health and literacy statistics and very few roads. Currently, services are provided by a vast array of international aid agencies and the country has been rocked by billion-dollar corruption scandals. People now hope that with the oil flowing again, they will finally see what the government calls the dividends of peace.

For NPR News, this is Hannah McNeish in Juba, South Sudan.

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