Port Sudan (file photo)
Source: Press TV
Sudan has prevented a shipment of oil produced in South Sudan from leaving port after Juba refused to pay customs fees, escalating tensions between the neighbors.
"Sudan has blocked the ship in Port Sudan... When the ship leaves the port, the South has to pay the customs authorities. This is the first time they didn't pay," Sudan Foreign Ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Meruh was quoted by AFP as saying on Friday.
The spokesperson earlier said Juba had refused to pay the north's fees for the use of its oil infrastructure, such as its pipeline, and therefore the cargo of 600,000 barrels had been blocked.
Meruh went on to say that Sudan and South Sudan have not reached an agreement about the transit fees, adding that Khartoum is asking for $32 per barrel.
South Sudan says other states charge a fee of $1.8 per barrel for providing the same facilities, urging the north to consider international standards in setting the fees.
The event intensifies a row between the neighbors in which Juba accuses Khartoum of making efforts to impede its economic growth.
"They want to stop the shipment so that it prolongs the whole [negotiating] process. Khartoum is trying to sabotage the economy of South Sudan," said David Loro, undersecretary for South Sudan's Ministry of Energy and Mines.
Loro added that a southern committee is holding negotiations with Sudanese authorities in Khartoum over the issue of transit fees.
The landlocked South has to use the north's infrastructure to pump oil, which according to the World Bank, accounts for nearly 95 percent of its total revenue.