(EnergyAsia, February 29 2012, Wednesday) — China said it wants to repair ties with South Sudan following “misunderstandings” that led to the African oil producer expelling the Chinese head of the local oil producing and pipeline company.

Last week, the government of recently independent South Sudan said it expelled Liu Yingcai, President of Petrodar, for allegedly paying oil transit fees to neigbouring Sudan without its permission.

The two countries split last July after years of civil war and ethnic conflict when they were ruled as one country, Sudan. Muslim-dominated Sudan, which enjoys closer ties with China, has been accused of committing war crimes against Christians who make up the majority of South Sudan which controls the bulk of the country’s oil reserves.

Petrodar’s shareholders include China National Petroleum Corp, Malaysia’s state Petronas, the government-controlled Sudan Petroleum Co, Sinopec Group and Tri-Ocean Energy.

Despite China being its largest oil customer, South Sudan expelled Mr Li, underlying the government’s suspicion and resentment towards Beijing for allegedly supporting the war crimes and human rights abuses committed by troops loyal to the old regime.

The governments of the two North African countries have failed to agree on a formula to split the oil revenues and use of oil infrastructure from the time when they were operating as one. South Sudan owns nearly three-quarters of the oil production under the old regime but continues to rely on two pipelines in Sudan for its exports.