India has evacuated all its nationals employed in South Sudan’s oil fields and shut down operations following heightened violence which has claimed the lives of the two of its peace-keeping troops.
According to news agencies, 11 executives working at the Greater Nile Oil Project that has an output of 40,000 barrels of oil per day and Block 5A in the fledgling country’s Unity state were airlifted to India over the last two days.
The Indian-government owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has a 25 percent stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project and almost the same in Block 5A.
Others in the project including China’s CNPC and Petronas of Malaysia too have evacuated their staff, the reports said.
India evacuated its staff as Unity state has come under the control of rebel forces loyal to deposed Vice-President Riek Machar. Though the rebels have not taken over the oil fields yet, New Delhi decided to move its staff out as a precautionary measure, reports said.
Fighting has intensified since December 15 between Machar’s rebels and forces loyal to President Salva Kiir resulting in 500 deaths, including Indian soldiers attached to UN peacekeeping forces in the country.
Clashes have occurred following the fallout between Machar and Kirr leading to the vice-president’s dismissal from office in July this year.
Telugu community stranded
Meanwhile, reports said about 150 Indians belonging to the Telugu-speaking community of southern India’s Andhra Pradesh state are stranded in the conflict-wracked country.
A local Telugu association is making arrangements to get them across the border to Uganda, said a report in the Times of India newspaper.
The report quoted the stranded people as having difficulties communicating to families back in India. But they were able to do so finally, much to the relief of their families.
The Telugu speakers are from several districts of Andhra Pradesh state and employed in various companies there.