Sudan’s Oilgate

Sudan’s Oilgate

No one expected the situation to be resolved with the independence of Southern Sudan in 2011, in fact one could quite easily say that the situation is worse, with foreign interests to add to the chaos while Northern Sudan remains unwilling to pay for its part of the processing and delivery of Southern Sudan’s oil. Once there is oil, there are human rights abuses, and this time Sweden is implicated. Southern Sudan is not a country that is full of people who do not know their best interests though that could be said of them when they separated from Northern Sudan, because as long as President Bashir is still around the problem remains as he is supported by Middle Eastern interests.

In the case of Sweden a legal battle unfolds as prosecutors investigate their oil company, Lundin Oil which is linked to huge human rights abuses. This is a legacy under Bashir since 1997, and not a product of negotiations with Southern Sudanese who had the misfortune to be living above a huge oil reserve. Sudanese correspondent, James Ninrew recalls:

“They used helicopter gunships to bomb houses,” the reverend and civil society leader recalled of the January 2000 attack, in Koch, Unity state. An elderly man and his wife were killed in the attack. “When the houses were on fire, the helicopter gunship landed and the soldiers came out and shot these people.”

In such a vast country, with such severe climatic conditions, and minimal communications network, it is easy to get away with mass human rights violations, but it is Sweden’s public prosecutor, Magnus Elving, who began the investigation, with evidence in an 2010 report, “Unpaid Debt” by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, ECOS  that could lead to a criminal case against Lundin Oil.

Whereas Lundin naturally denies all accusations, ECOS evidence highlights otherwise. Whereas Lundin sad they consulted with the communities concerned, ECOS points out that those “consultations” were with influential military-political leaders and the rape, pillage torture and damage caused pales into insignificance the U.S.$1.7mn Lundin paid, and profited to the sum of U.S.$142.5mn in 2003 when it sold its stake!

ECOS asked Austria and Malaysia to investigate their own oil interests in Sudan to make sure that they too are not committing large scale human rights abuses! The result an estimated 12,000 people killed, and 160,000 displaced from the area designated for oil extraction as Block 5A. Located in the Muglad Basin, Block 5A is part of a is part of a huge, fertile floodplain fed by rivers from the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, all of which are occupied by NATO-US in some form. In 2008, shareholders in Block 5A included:

  • Lundin Petroleum AB  at 40.375%
  • OMV Aktiengesellschaft at      26.125%
  • Petroliam Nasional Berhad at      28.5%

Indiscriminate bombings (not that bombing can actually be targeted), land troops to ensure there are no people left, soldiers positioned to guarantee control of the area along with rape, torture, murder, and driving people into uninhabitable swamps left to die from exhaustion, hunger, and ill-health.

As Ethiopia unleashes the same tactics in its spread of commercialized farming, displacing thousands of people, African governments too have to stand up and be counted!


Ferrie, J “Sweden Runs Into South Sudanese Oilgate.”

Related Topic:

Oil vs. Communities: The Case of Sudan

Ethiopia: Aid as a Weapon of Oppression