Oil, Ownership and Conflicts: the case of the Sudan

Oilwatch  Africa and representatives from  academia, development  experts and community leaders met under the theme, Oil over Africa: Economic Boom and Burst to deliberate on the increasing oil and gas exploration, development and production projects on the African continent,  and  the  impact  on  the  peoples  of  Africa,  particularly  the  socio-economic  and environmental costs that are associated with these activities. The conference was held at Coconut Groove Regency, Accra, Ghana, 13th to 15thMay, 2012. 

United Nation Photo
United Nation Photo

This is the contribution of Prof. Asim el Moghraby, Emeritus Professor of Ecology.


He began with the fact that oil exploration in the Sudan started in the 1960s by Italian AGIB. Also  various  Chinese  and  Asian  companies  have  also  succeeded  in  securing  oil  blocks  in Sudan.

He emphasized that oil accounts for 98% of  the  country’s revenue,  while other  production sectors  have  been almost  completely neglected.  Adding that  the  recent break  up  of  Sudan into  two  countries (Sudan  and  South Sudan)  promises many  uncertainties of oil proportions, there is a lot of ongoing ‘’cage rattling’’ and mudslinging on the two sides of the borders infrastructures.

Following the separation, the Sudan is about  25%  smaller, covering a land mass  of 1,881,000km2 instead of 2,256,000km2. This accounts for 90% of Sudanese oil specified to Republic of South Sudan. The South is landlocked and depends on the North to export its oil. 

The  oil  conflicts  of  over  20  years  of  fighting  has  killed more  than  2  million  Sudanese  and displaced  another  4  million  from  their  homes. An  estimated  500,000  South  Sudanese  are  facing  expulsion  from  Sudan.  Also,  35,000  civilians  have  been  pushed  from  their  homes, adding  to  the  already  bad  situation  for  relief  organizations.  He  said  as  part  of  the  latest development, in April 2012, South Sudan seized Heglig Central Processing Facility for second time, shutting off half of Sudan’s remaining oil production.

He concluded that both countries are facing  ongoing internal conflicts,  severe  economic problems,  and the challenge of devising a new constitution.  

Both  countries lack working democracy, international assistance has been painstakingly slow and ineffective. It is hoped that the two Sudans will have a fresh start. 

Source: OilWatch Conference-report-2012

More to read on: Oil, Conflict and Sudan
SudanWar And Oil / Mark Watson Blog
South Sudan civilians are trapped in conflict over oil / Washington Post
Sudan / The New York Times