by Megan Sever Thursday, January 5, 2012
Today, South Sudan is voting on whether to secede from North Sudan. Although all votes have not been counted, signs point to the South becoming its own country. But given that South Sudan holds more than 70 percent of Sudan’s 5 billion to 6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, a lot in this election hinges on oil, as EARTH explores in its February feature.
Although the South contains most of Sudan's oil, the North holds all of the country's infrastructure to get oil to market, including Sudan's only port. So when South Sudan does become its own country, it is clear that the North and South will have to form a new oil profit-sharing agreement; the current agreement expires in July along with the peace agreement. The 2005 peace agreement had set Jan. 9, 2011, as the date for the referendum, and had also put in place the current profit-sharing agreement. Because neither expires until July 9, nothing will change immediately — except that reaching a new oil revenue-sharing agreement may become more urgent.
EARTH examines what role oil will play in this international affair, as well as looking at how development in other new frontiers — including the Arctic, the Falkland Islands, the Levant Basin and Trinidad and Tobago — will affect the oil and gas marketplace in our other features this month.
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