By Tiisetso Motsoeneng
ADDIS ABABA, July 25 (Reuters) – South Sudan has called off talks with French oil major Total about developing two oil blocks, the petroleum ministry said on Wednesday, paving the way for other investors keen on exploring the vast area thought to be rich in hydrocarbons.
Total, alongside two other oil companies, has been in talks with the country’s government about developing the area called B1 and B2 since 2013.
“The Ministry of Petroleum regrets that negotiations with Total have concluded in no deal,” Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said in a statement. “But (it) looks forward to bringing new investors into talks for these licenses.”
Total and the government failed to agree on the duration of the exploration and the commercial terms of a production-sharing agreement, Gatkuoth said.
Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Landlocked South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict, has been mired in civil war since President Salva Kiir sacked former vice president Riek Machar in 2013.
But on Wednesday South Sudan’s government and the main rebel group inked a power-sharing deal in the Sudanese capital, which they hope will end the conflict, a Reuters witness said, though smaller opposition groups have refrained from signing.
(Reporting by Maggie Fick in Addis Ababa, Denis Dumo in Juba and Bate Felix in Paris Writing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng Editing by Andrew Bolton)