US major ExxonMobil has suspended its exploration plans with France’s Total in South Sudan, in what is sure to be a blow to the country’s future oil industry prospects, already hit by close to nine months of ethnically-fueled conflict.

After years of discussion, Exxon was drafted in by project operator Total to take control of a 30% share in the Block B license which had been left idle since late-2007, when fellow US firm Marathon Oil withdrew from the project. Marathon was forced to sell its stake in the block after the US government’s decision in May 2007 to renew economic sanctions on Sudan (MEES, 23 July 2007). (CONTINUED - 790 WORDS)