JUBA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - South Sudan has asked Sudan to send engineers to help maintain oil output after many foreign workers left because of fighting between South Sudan government forces and rebels, the South Sudanese oil minister said on Monday.
Since fighting erupted in mid-December, production has slipped to about 200,000 barrels per day from about 245,000 bpd, biting into the main source of revenues for South Sudan and hurting vital pipeline transit fees earned by Sudan.
Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said output was still holding at about 190,000 to 200,000 bpd from fields in South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011, a separation that has often led to heated rows over oil and other issues.
Although a small producer, fighting that spread from South Sudan's capital Juba to oil production zones and other areas has rattled oil markets. The conflict has killed more than 1,000 people and, by one independent estimate, may have killed 10,000.
Speaking at Juba airport after meetings in Khartoum, Dau said: "I talked to them so that they can quickly provide us with the technical support in terms of engineers that can be sent into Unity state working side by side with our engineers."
Unity state is one of the main producing areas, lying in the north of the world's newest nation. Sudan had earlier offered technical support. South Sudan's government retook Unity state capital, Bentiu, from rebels last week.
Analysts say it will be tough for South Sudan to maintain production without the skills of specialist foreign workers.
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