The former head of U.S. security company Blackwater USA, Erik Prince, was hired by South Sudan to help repair damaged oil facilities and boost output cut by a year of civil war.
Prince’s Frontier Services Group Ltd. (500), a Hong Kong-listed logistics and transportation company, is being paid 18.7 million euros ($23.3 million) by South Sudan’s Ministry of Petroleum to transport supplies and perform maintenance on production facilities at the oil fields, Chief Executive Officer Gregg Smith said by phone from New York yesterday. About 30 employees including pilots, engineers and logistics technicians have been using helicopters and airplanes to reach South Sudan’s oil fields since September, Smith said.
“This is not supporting the army,” Smith said. “The contract is clearly with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining to support the oil field services and to make sure the production of oil keeps flowing.”
South Sudan’s oil output, which provides almost all the government’s revenue, has fallen by at least a third to about 160,000 barrels per day since fighting erupted last December when a power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement turned violent. Petroleum Ministry spokesman Nicodemus Ajak Bior didn’t return e-mails requesting comment and couldn’t be reached by phone.
“We have no security contract, we have no training contract, it is purely logistic support, largely aviation based,” Smith said. “Our men are not armed, our security is provided by the government of South Sudan.”