South Sudan has delayed its debut licensing round, which was due to launched this month, due to the oil price crash and the global spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Awow Daniel Chuang, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Petroleum, told reporters in Juba that the offering, covering 14 blocks, has been suspended amid.

"We were in the middle of preparing for the first oil and gas licensing round. It was actually planned to be here (Juba) in March.

"We are going to defer it (licensing), but the plans are still there for us to attract new investors to South Sudan especially from the Western world," he said.

Oil companies currently active in South Sudan include China National Petroleum Corporation, India's Oil & Natural Gas Corporation and Malaysia's Petronas Carigali.

Oil production has risen steadily since a peace plan was put in place recently with output hitting 175,000 barrels per day.

South Sudan depends on oil for almost all its revenues with crude exported north to Sudan's Red Sea coast.

Separately, the government in Juba recently called on international companies active in the Muglad basin to undertake environmental audits of their operations with a focus on the effects on local populations.