Khartoum (AFP) – Saudi Arabia will supply Sudan with millions of tonnes of oil for the next five years to help it tackle a growing energy crisis, the African country’s oil minister said Monday.
Sudan has been hit with an acute fuel crisis for weeks now, sending black market prices surging in Khartoum as residents queued outside fuel stations for hours.
In a bid to resolve the crisis, a Sudanese delegation led by Oil Minister Abdul Rahman Osman visited Riyadh last week.
“We returned from Saudi Arabia after negotiations with the Saudi side to supply Sudan with oil for five years,” Osman told reporters at the presidential palace in Khartoum.
“Sudan will receive 1.8 million tonnes of oil in the first year. After that each year the quantity will be raised by seven percent.”
The financing of the deal is to be facilitated by Saudi Development Bank, Osman added without giving financial details of the agreement or when the first oil delivery was expected.
The Sudanese presidency in a separate statement said a draft agreement between the two countries had been prepared.
“The agreement will be signed after the two sides complete the financing procedures of the deal,” it said.
Residents in Khartoum have been queueing for hours outside fuel stations since supplies began dwindling in early April, with officials blaming maintenance delays at a key refinery, although foreign currency shortages have also played a role.
The crisis has since escalated despite official pledges to resolve it.
Most fuel stations were receiving less than their alloted quotas of petrol and diesel, with attendants often keeping the outlets shut once they sold their stock.
Farmers too complained they were unable to transport their products to market as hundreds of trucks had been grounded.
The crisis comes amid surging inflation that has triggered sporadic anti-government protests in Khartoum and other cities.
Sudan’s overall economy has been hit hard, particularly after the south separated from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75 percent of oil revenues.
As the fuel crisis deepened, Sudanese have taken to social media to criticise Saudi Arabia for not helping Khartoum, especially when hundreds of Sudanese soldiers were fighting as part of a Saudi-led coalition against Huthi rebels in Yemen.
In what is seen as a pressure tactic at a time when the Sudanese delegation led by Osman was set to visit Riyadh, Khartoum even said that it was evaluating its troop deployment in conflict-wracked Yemen.
President Omar al-Bashir deployed troops to Yemen after a major foreign policy shift by Sudan that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Iran and join the Saudi-led coalition.