The US has amended sanctions on Sudan in place since 1997, making it possible for US firms to invest in oil and petrochemicals in the newly independent Republic of South Sudan.

The regulations were amended by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is now “authoring all activities and transactions relating to the petroleum and petrochemical industries” in the country.

Activities authorised under the new licence include oil exploration, development and production, as well as field auditing services, oilfield services and activities related to oil and gas pipelines.

The amendments also allow for the “trans-shipment of goods, technology, and services through Sudan, to or from the Republic of South Sudan and related financial transactions”.

Companies will also be allowed to make payments to entities owned or controlled by Khartoum or located in Sudan, as long as the transaction “first transit(s) through a depository institution not owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan”.

Sanctions were first imposed in 1997 under the Clinton Administration preventing US firms from investing in Sudan’s oil sector. They were renewed in 2007 under George Bush and again under Barack Obama in November.

Khartoum and South Sudan are currently locked in a dispute over oil revenues because output has to be passed through Sudan’s infrastructure for export (MEED 29:11:11).