South Sudan’s key oil export path blocked as Red Sea route to gulf countries sealed off

The blockade of South Sudan's vital maritime route for oil exports to Gulf countries due to intense fighting in the Red Sea corridor poses grave economic threats as the country heavily relies on oil revenue, facing challenges in production and potentially destabilising its fragile economy.

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The principal maritime route utilized by South Sudan for oil exports to Gulf countries has been effectively blockaded, restricting the passage of ships and vessels in the Red Sea corridor. According to Al Jazeera, the closure is a direct result of the intense fighting between the Houthi militia and Yemeni military forces against the Western alliance (UK and USA).

This blockade poses significant challenges for South Sudan, whose economy is heavily dependent on oil exports. Even if the country is to produce billions of barrels of oil daily, the sealing off of this route stifles its ability to transport oil to the international market.

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Minister of Information, Communication, Technology, and Postal Services, Michael Makuei Lueth, highlighted in a press release the impact of Sudan’s war on South Sudan’s economy, especially its oil sector. “Due to the war, along with severe flooding and technical issues within the pipeline stations, South Sudan is struggling with its oil production and exportation,” said Makuei. Adding to these challenges, concerns over insecurity in the Red Sea are causing hesitation among cargo ships carrying crude oil shipments, fearing potential blockades. This situation is particularly distressing for South Sudan, which heavily relies on oil revenue, multiple media reports say.


Al Jazeera reported that, in a sign of tighter supply, the market structure of Brent, which is used to price nearly 80 percent of the world’s traded oil, hit its most bullish level as tankers diverted from the Red Sea following recent air strikes by the United States and United Kingdom on targets in Yemen.

According to Xinhua Chinese news agency, South Sudan has managed to export around 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day between November 2023 and January 2024, a figure that underlines the pressing issues facing the country’s economy and the urgency of addressing these multifaceted challenges.

South Sudan’s reliance on oil as its primary source of revenue means that the nation would face an incredible economic crisis and that the disruption in oil exports would likely have great implications for the government’s revenue stream and could potentially destabilise the country’s fragile economy.

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