ME and Ophelia

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Sudan and India sign new pipeline deal

July 7, 2004 report entitled "Oil Underlies Darfur Tragedy" by Zaman in Turkey, says that according to Arab sources, the fighting in Darfur stems from attempts to gain control over the oil resources in the region. Also, their sources point out that oil fields have recently been discovered in Darfur.

May 15, 2004 report entitled "W. Sudan: a complex ethnic reality with a long history" by Professor R.S. O'Fahey of University of Bergen, Norway (and Northwestern University) writes of Darfur: "the racist dimension comes to the fore in reports of rape and mass killings, cynically supported by the Khartoum government, which is determined to retain control over the area. The reason is simple: a possible oil pipeline through Darfur."
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The above two reports are the first of three I've found that mention oil in Darfur. Mainstream media seem to concentrate their reports on the conflict in Darfur as being about government backed Janjaweed eliminating black Africans who feel marginalised and excluded from getting a fair share of power and wealth for their region. Which, going by witness accounts, is all true. But ever since I started blogging about the Sudan crisis on April 24, I've sought (unsuccessfully) to find the answer to one of my questions, namely: All during the past years of Peace Accord negotiations for the north and south of Sudan, why did the U.S. and Sudan see fit to exclude the western and eastern regions of Sudan?

Back in April I'd read somewhere that oil had been discovered in both Darfur and along the border of Sudan and Chad. Unfortunately I've misplaced the link to the report. In May I came across a report (see above) by Professor O'Fahey that provides a succinct overview of western Sudan's history. The report basically says the GoS supports the rape, mass killings and ethnic cleansing because it is determined to retain control over Darfur for a simple reason: a possible oil pipeline through Darfur. [Note Professor O'Fahey's report is copied in full in my next post, above]

Maybe the U.S. did not view Darfur as a big problem as they concentrated on brokering peace for the north-south: a lasting peace that would enable a seemingly united Sudan move forward and progress for the benefit of all regions. It would appear the U.S. does not have an interest in Sudan's oil, not because it is too expensive but because their main aim is to promote democracy and fight international terrorism (and respond to pressure from groups concerned with abuses of human rights).

Perhaps the GoS knew all along that there was oil in Darfur. And they presumed (wrongly) we in the Western world wouldn't notice that black Africans were being eliminated to make way for the Arabisation of Sudan. The GoS are keen on getting the Peace Accord signed and sealed because it will legitimise their standing (they're an unelected dictatorship that stole power through a coup) and it will help pave the way for doing deals with Asian oil companies, which may in turn help attract back the big players (ie British Petroleum) that pulled out of Sudan because of human rights issues.

See this July 1 report entitled "Sudan signed new pipeline deal with the Indian ONGC". It states "a new 741 kilometer-long pipeline with 12 inches in diameter is a real addition to exportation of oil products to international market". Also, it reports that India ONGC has another agreement - for establishing a third pipeline with 32 inches in diameter - that will be signed soon.

It'd be interesting to know the location of that third pipeline. And why the oil companies in Sudan are getting away with no media coverage on the Sudan crisis. Here below is a map of oil concessions in Sudan where one can see how closely the oil companies are situated to Darfur. I wonder why there is no news coming out of Sudan from them?

So little reporting comes out of Sudan. Most mainstream media reports I find are regurgitated snippets emanating from a few original sources, ie UN, US, EU press conferences, summits etc. I've read that the GoS goes to great pains to keep publicity reaching the residents of Khartoum, for fear it will cause an outcry. It'd be great to have more than a few bloggers in Khartoum to spread the word.

In a forthcoming post I list the aid contributions made by several countries. Note that France has contributed USD 12 million to the international aid effort in Darfur (through bilateral and EU channels). So far, UK has given USD 65 million. Italy USD 30 million. Since India has been striking such big deals with Sudan, it would be interesting to know how much aid they've contributed towards humanitarian assistance for Darfur - along with China and Malaysia - and any other country on the UN Security Council that is responsible for blocking sanctions - and military intervention - to put pressure on Khartoum to protect its people and aid workers in Sudan.

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Where 500 applications - from humanitarian agencies alone - are gathering diplomatic dust

In today's Sunday Times magazine, reporter AA Gill writes from Sudan where he has witnessed the plight of refugees fleeing genocide.

The situation is as bad as we bloggers are describing. Nothing has been exaggerated. In fact it is even more grim than words can convey here.

The front page of the magazine introduced the report in big bold letters, saying: "WELCOME TO HELL: There are rumours of genocide and ethnic cleansing whispered on the gritty, boiling wind. In ones and twos, and tens and hundreds, they struggle in with stories of systematic murder, rape, slavery and scorched earth'

Inside the magazine, one whole page is taken up with these words in large letters: 'The Janjaweed come and kill all the men and boys. They rape the women and take some as slaves, burn the villages and the crops they can't steal. Who will stand up to the Janjaweed, the most feared and sadistically ruthless thugs on a continent glutted with horror?'

The reporter describes the situation as "calculated crime" and calls it "the greatest inhumanitarian disaster in the world". He says the Government of Sudan's reason for not intervening is clear: it's ethnic cleansing and genocide. And goes on to say, "anyone who doubts that this conflict is either genocidal or ethnically motivated only has to visit these camps. All the refugees are black; there are no Arabs here. And even more shocking, 90% of them are women and children. The children up to the age of five are about 50-50 girls and boys, as you'd expect. From 5 to 15 they are 70% girls. It is impossible to imagine any other explanation for this disappeared generation of men than systematic murder. The women tell of deaths, terrified flight, lost children, missing husbands. "We will never go back" says one. "Unless the UN have soldiers, and only if they are white soldiers," adds another."

On Sudan and humanitarian access, the reporter says promised visas for observers and NGOs never materialise - and if they do manage to get one, access to the worst areas is limited. He writes "there are 500 applications - from humanitarian agencies alone - gathering diplomatic dust".

No doubt the humanitarian agencies are making this known to their respective governments. I just wish the media would make more of these important issues and get the message across to the residents of Khartoum. I'd like to know about the people who live in Khartoum and what they think - as well as those who work within the oil companies adjacent to Darfur. If anyone reading this has heard or knows of any blogs in Khartoum or Sudan, please email me.
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Uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas:
France is interested in Uranium and has drilling rights in Sudan

The following post was published in this blog on August 2, 2004, - and inserted here - on August, 20, 2004:

Beyond3D, "an attempt in conversation", has a thread going on re my July 21 post on OIl and Darfur. The same post was picked up here by Passion of the Present.

My search for reports of any riches in Darfur is an ongoing project. Along with answers to my original questions (still not found answers). And why France was so slow to help when they knew - first hand - of genocide unfolding. New findings re riches in Darfur will be added to my original post as and when. France is a post-in-progress and will appear here. Soon I shall start paying more attention to my new blog A Breath of Hope to log the successes and failures of the aid agencies. Please feel free to share any relevant info on any of these topics by email to me or in the comments and I will write a post around it and link to your blog.

At the moment I am searching for maps to pinpoint Hofrat Al Nihas. (Other names: Hofrat el Nahas, Hofrat en Nahās, Ḩufrat an Naḩās, Hofrat en Nahas). I think it may be in South Darfur - maybe close to a border. My time has been used up getting these posts together. If anyone finds it clearly -- on a map -- please let me know and I will write a post around it with links to your blog. Here's why:

Khaleej Times Online report excerpt: "The oil and precious mineral resources such as uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas have set off fierce competition between US and France. The US has started to invest in oil industry in Chad, France's former colony, while France Total company obtained drilling rights in Sudan."
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Oil and conflict in Sudan
Take Action has ready-made emails to President Bush

The following is an excerpt from a post published in this blog on August 3, 2004, - and inserted here on August, 20, 2004:

Right now, I am one quarter of the way through reading an incredible report entitled "Sudan Update: Raising the stakes: Oil and conflict in Sudan".

The report provides an accurate picture of what has been going on in Sudan over past years. If anyone else reads it all the way through - and provides a summary on their blog - I will personally send them a popular Moleskine notebook at Christmas time. I don't expect too many people will be breaking down my blog door to write such a summary, so I guess I won't be overwhelmed by the mailing of many notebooks ;)

Below are a few extracts I've taken from the report. Sorry I cannot spend more time on it. Must get this published. I'm serious about about the Moleskine gift. The report is packed full of useful details that will take me too long to summarise. I'd like to share it here asap in the hope that it gets a wider reading. It's an important report (who authored it?) as it shows what the National Islamic Front (NIF) government of Sudan has been up since it stole power fifteen years ago. Last Friday's UN resolution giving Khartroum 30 days will not make the slightest difference - even if they were given another 30 or 60 days. The report (looks like it was published in 1999) explains the reasons why. Here are some excerpts:

Oil and conflict in Sudan

On 30 August 1999, Sudan filled its first tanker-load of oil.
Now, Sudan, Africa's largest country, could join OPEC and hold its head up as an oil exporter alongside Saudi Arabia and Libya, said Sudan's government ministers. Their critics replied that if it did join OPEC it would be politically insignificant alongside the major producers. Better parallels would be with the repression, sabotage, corruption and pollution encountered in Burma, Colombia or the Niger Delta.

Just three weeks later, on 20 September 1999, opponents of Sudan's military regime blew a hole in the newly-completed pipeline.

The attack shattered the calculated charm of the government's recent public relations efforts. It began issuing threats to neighbouring Egypt and Eritrea, demanding that they expel the opposition's leaders there, while arresting opponents and lashing out at the local press. "Its campaign to convince the world that it has security under control, and that serious talks about ending Sudan's war are now possible, [seem] to be wrong on both counts." (Africa Confidential 8 October 1999)

The explosion also embarrassed the Board members of the Greater Nile Operating Company, including Talisman Energy Inc of Calgary - formerly British Petroleum Canada - who were meeting in Khartoum that week. They had claimed for years that the only risk to their project was in the southern war zone, and that peace was in any case close at hand.

Now they were under greater pressure than ever to talk to the banned opposition, which had long since declared their installations throughout the country to be military targets. However, their tone remained defiant. Just a public relations failure, they said.

How much oil is there? Proven oil reserves are enough to last some 15 years. Not enough to solve any of Sudan's deep-rooted problems, but enough to create plenty more.
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"Sudan accounts for the largest number of the world's uprooted people. More than 4.3 million Sudanese have been forced to flee because of the continuing bloody civil war in the south and east. One out of every eight refugees and displaced persons in the world are Sudanese. (U.S. Committee for Refugees USCR World Refugee Survey)
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Oilfields, which lie underneath the dividing line between the warring north and south of the country, have been fuelling conflict for the last 20 years.

The oil-rush has long been bloodier and messier than its defenders would like the world to believe, and systematic destruction and relocation of communities are part and parcel of the oil project. People in the areas around the militarised oil installations and the pipeline route have been subjected to devastating attacks by government forces for years. They are being driven from their homes by air-raids and bombardment, and by militias supported by the government, resulting in horrendous suffering.

The government of Sudan has called the oil "a sacred gift to the faithful"

A huge country of vast semi-desert expanses and intense heat, Sudan is said to have oil reserves of anything from 600 million barrels to 3 billion. It also has minerals, gold, uranium, and vast expanses of arable land. Tempting, perhaps. The government of Sudan has called the oil "a sacred gift to the faithful". Its would-be partners in the oil project - companies from Canada, China and Malaysia, Austria, Sweden and France - seem to think likewise, as do the suppliers of oil pipeline equipment from Britain and Germany, and the oil traders from Netherlands and Japan. But when it comes to making use of this asset, it is not only the sheer immensity of the terrain that brings with it a host of complications.

The former UN Human Rights Rapporteur who worked on Sudan for years, Dr Gaspar Biro, has commented that if the oil companies don't know what is going on, they're not looking over the fences of their compounds.

Nonetheless, along with Canada, China and Malaysia, European countries are increasingly involved in oil project. They are ignoring the role it plays in the conflict and instead casting it in a favourable light. And the European Union seems to be doing the same.
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The regime has repeatedly denied permission for humanitarian flights to aid the most afflicted populations, dropped cluster bombs on clearly civilian targets, and repeatedly bombed clearly-marked civilian hospitals.

Throughout the 1990s, Sudan's NIF government has been using the prospect of oil for maximum propaganda value, a vital part of its efforts to get rid of its international "human rights and terrorism pariah" status and attract foreign investment into its war-devastated economy. The growing involvement of Canadian and European companies has begun to lend it a much-needed, but unwarranted, appearance of respectability.

As Aung San Suu Kyi said of UK's Premier Oil in Burma: "Apart from the actual revenues that it brings to the government, it also constitutes a psychological boost because it makes the government feel that, however repressive they may be, they still have the support of big companies. And if those countries are from Western democracies, it's even more serious because it gives the military regime the chance to say: 'Look, even companies from Western democracies support us, so what we are doing can't be that wrong. Why are the democratic forces making such a fuss?'" (Mark Thomas / Channel 4 TV, October 1999)
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Above all, the National Islamic Front government desperately needs the revenue from the oil project to strengthen its grip on the country.

Despite its constant use of the word "Popular" in its slogans, the NIF itself is extremely unpopular. In the 1986 general elections its members won less than ten per cent of the vote; it staged a coup in 1989 to abort a peace process, and it would lose disastrously if free elections were held now. But it has held on to power for a decade on which it has made its mark by its readiness to deny charges of systematic and gross human rights abuse, claiming persecution by the outside world for its "Islamic orientation".

In practice this has amounted to religiously-infused totalitarianism, feared and despised by the predominantly Muslim community in northern Sudan, nearly as much as by the people of the generally non-Muslim south. Its encouragement of violent militancy has spread beyond Sudan's borders and is a source of alarm to its neighbours in the Horn of Africa.
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Further reading:

Aug 2: World Food Programme is starting to airdrop food in remote parts of Darfur. Refugees are receiving the food sacks dropped by WFP. WFP (a UN body) is airlifting food to the "most inaccessible" parts of Sudan's western Darfur region for the first time. It says the food will assist more than 70,000 people who have been cut off from other help because of the rainy season and insecurity. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which says it distributed food to 20,000 Darfurians earlier this month, says persisting pockets of fighting and attacks have made access to people in the region difficult.

Aug 2: World must double food aid to Sudan warns head of MSF, today.

Aug 2: Sudan's Army says the UN resolution on the conflict in Darfur is 'a declaration of war' and threatens to fight any foreign intervention.

Aug 2:: US State Department says: "There is no excuse for Sudan not taking action now. The Security Council calls for action now. And that's what we want to see. And we will evaluate the situation again in 30 days."

Aug 2 report on Sudan's military situation: military experts in Britain say Sudanese Armed Forces are conscript-dependent and poorly equipped."

Aug 2: post by Black Looks on Playing Politics in Darfur

July 24: Booker Rising writes: "Mustafa Osman Ismail Sudan's foreign minister (pictured above) rejects a U.S. Congressional declaration that atrocities in its western Darfur region amounts to genocide. He insists that his government is doing everything it can to end the conflict, which has killed 30,000 people and forced a million to flee. He accuses global concern as "actually a targeting of the Islamic state in Sudan." Let's see. 2 million folks have died since 1983, at the government's hand. 400+ black villages burned down. Slavery. Government-backed Arab militias conduct mass rape campaigns against black women, knowing that ethnicity in the region is traced through the father. Yep, genocide."

July 30 2004: Embassy of Sudan report by John Laughland.
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There is a lot of money at stake

The following was published here on August, 20, 2004:

Here is an excerpt from a fourth report I have found that contains a clear reference to oil in Darfur. The report, entitled "Sudan in the dock" is authored by Gamai Nkrumah and was published in Cairo today at Al-Ahram online:

"The conflict in Darfur, one of Sudan's poorest and least developed regions, has a military dimension. But the primary struggle is political, ideological and economic. Oil reserves have been discovered in commercial quantities in Darfur, and the protracted oil-fuelled war in Darfur is far from over. There is a lot of money at stake."

Also, below are three reports by the same author that show he has followed the conflicts in the Sudan closely but make no other mention of oil reserves discovered in Darfur.
8 - 14 April 2004
15 -21 April 2004
29 April - 5 May 2004
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Excerpts from further reports:

(Business Wire 8/Apr/99) LUNDIN OIL 'SPUDS FIRST WELL': Lundin Oil AB through its wholly owned subsidiary, IPC Sudan Limited, 'is pleased to announce the drilling of its first exploration well in Block 5A, onshore Sudan. The well is being drilled on the Thar Jath prospect and was spudded on April 7th.' 'The prospect is on one of the largest structural features identified to date in the basin and is believed to hold significant potential for oil. Drilling to a total planned depth of 3,200 metres is expected to take between 30 and 45 days. Primary objectives are the Cretaceous Bentiu and Darfur sandstones which have been proven successful in the adjacent block being developed by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating CompanyS'
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[Sudan Update Vol.6 No.13,[08/24/95] OIL FLUCTUATIONS: The Canadian company Arakis claims to have completed the design for the proposed oil pipeline from central Sudan to Port Sudan, and says that construction equipment and materials are being shipped to Sudan. However, Sudanese Finance Minister Abdallah Hassan Ahmed told al-Sharq al-Awsat on 5 August that the agreement between the government and Arakis was due for renewal.

"We have an agreement with Arakis for the exploration for oil, which has expired and is awaiting a decision for renewal. The pipeline is a totally separate project. Arakis assured us that they had secured financing [for the pipeline] through a Gulf Arab company. But despite that, there are many options open to the Sudan government to implement the pipeline project and Arakis is not the sole player," the minister said. SNV notes that in recent weeks Maj-Gen Salah Karrar, as Minister of Energy, has negotiated agreements for oil development in Sudan with Russia, China, Iraq and Iran.
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[Data as of June 1991] Uranium ores have been discovered in the area of the Nuba Mountains and at Hufrat an Nahas in southern Kurdufan. Minex Company of the United States obtained a 36,000-square-kilometer exploratory concession in the Kurdufan area in 1977, and the concession was increased to 48,000 square kilometers in 1979. Uranium reserves are also believed to exist near the western borders with Chad and Central African Republic. Another potential source of mineral wealth was the Red Sea bed. In 1974 officials established a joint Sudanese-Saudi Arabian agency to develop those resources, which included zinc, silver, copper, and other minerals. Explorations below the 2,000-meter mark have indicated that large quantities of the minerals are present, but as of 1990 no actual extraction had been undertaken.
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Here is a copy of a previous post at this blog, dated April 16, 2005:

In impoverished Darfur

Sorry, been busy over at Congo Watch, Sudan Watch and Passion of the Present. Copy of latest post on the Sudan:

Here is no surprise. But, if true, it is the first time a Sudanese official has confirmed it: an oil field has been discovered in southern Darfur.

Note, southern Darfur is the region where a savage attack on Khor Abeche [which was controlled by the SLM, the main rebel group in Darfur] by 200 militia and a group of 150 people hailing from Niteaga took place April 7, 2005.


Published April 16, 2005

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudan said Saturday initial oil drilling operations in the troubled Darfur region indicate there is abundant oil in the area.

Sudan Energy Minister Awad al-Jaz told reporters in Khartoum an oil field was found in southern Darfur and it is expected to produce 500,000 barrels of oil per day by August.

Most of the country's oil production comes from oil fields in southern Sudan, where a peace treaty was recently signed between the government and rebels.

According to the accord, 50 percent of oil revenues from the south will go to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement [the former rebel group of south Sudan], while the other half to Khartoum.

The country started exporting oil in August 1999.

Sudan Energy Minister Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz
Photo: Sudan Energy Minister Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz (Sudan Tribune)
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Further reading

July 11, 2004 post - Arab sources say oil discovered in Darfur - Sudan and India sign new pipeline deal.

July 12, 2004 post by Jim Moore re Oil and Darfur.

Dec 4, 2004 post on Oil and Darfur - India signs new pipeline deal - France interested in Uranium and has drilling rights.

Apr 3, 2005 post - Oil found in South Darfur - Oil issues threaten to derail Sudan hopes for peace.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/11/2004
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