The South Sudan government has promised to end environmental pollution in the oil-producing Upper Nile region.
Oil minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lol said the government had directed the companies carrying out explorations in the north of the country to guard against environmental pollution.
He issued the directive during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between his ministry and Malaysia oil firm, Pretonas in Juba on oil production in new blocks 1, 2 and 4. The MoU gives Petronas the greenlight to pump oil in the new blocks located at Heglig at the border with Sudan.
The new fields
South Sudan announced the production of oil in the new fields last month.
Mr Lol pointed out that the government was taking measures to revive the economy.
“This is money for the people of South Sudan. The economy of the country will definitely be improving,” he said.
The minister said all the oil companies must abide by the law on environmental protection.
He added that it was also the duty of the oil companies to give back to the communities services such as health, water, good roads and education.
“Yes, the issue of environment protection is paramount and in the agreement we signed today, we covered it. It is a win-win for all of us (government and oil companies),” he said.
Earlier, German aid agency Sign of Hope, released figures of people displaced by oil contamination in Thar Jath in the former Unity State.
Sign of Hope said more than 500,000 people were uprooted by the oil pollution in the area.
Mr Lol acknowledged the report, but said it was exaggerated.