Sudan inaugurated Friday a Chinese-built petroleum refinery to produce oil derivatives for both export and local consumption.
Speaking at the televised ceremony, President Omar Bashir thumbed his nose at the United States for pulling its oil companies out of Sudan and said his government had "accepted the challenges" of working without them.
The refinery, built by China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) in 19 months, can handle 50,000 barrels per day and is capable of producing five times Sudan's butane gas needs, three times its benzine needs and meeting local gasoline requirements.
The government is planning to export butane gas produced at the refinery 70 kilometers (40 miles) north of Khartoum, which was inaugurated to celebrate the 11th anniversary of Bashir's seizure of power.
Bashir boasted that the refinery was the latest in a string of oil industry achievements made after "the American oil companies pulled out saying that Sudanese oil would be produced only by themselves."
Sudan began exporting crude oil in August 1999 from the specially built Bashir terminal near Port Sudan which is linked to oilfields in southern Sudan by a 1,610 kilometer (1,000 mile) pipeline.
"We are now in possession of expertise in field operations, transport, refining and exportation," Bashir said, adding that Khartoum was entitled to 80 percent of the refinery's production under its deal with the Chinese firm.
CNPC is also part of a consortium of oil firms including Malaysia's Petronas and Talisman of Canada operating in the Higleig and Unity oilfields in southern Sudan.
Energy and Mining Minister Awad Ahmed Eljaz said he had invited companies "from all over the world" to invest in Sudan's oil industry, saying that his ministry is contemplating petrochemical projects - KHARTOUM (AFP)
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