JUBA - South Sudan said on Monday it started shutting down oil production and accused Sudan of seizing $815 million worth of crude, escalating an increasingly bitter row over oil revenues between the former civil war foes.
South Sudan seceded last July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between north and south, but the two have remained locked in a dispute over how to untangle their oil industries.
The new landlocked nation needs to use a northern pipeline and the port of Port Sudan to export its crude but has failed to reach an agreement with Khartoum over a transit fee, prompting Sudan to start seizing oil as compensation.
South Sudan started shutting down oil output on Sunday and expected to finish the process within two weeks, government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters by phone.
"The task force has been formed for the shutdown and they are already in the fields carrying out the instructions," he said, listing the Thar Jath field in Unity state as one field where the shutdown had begun.
Officials said in November South Sudan was producing about 350,000 barrels of oil per day.