SUDAN WATCH: South Sudan: French energy giant Total in oil talks with SPLM/A over White Nile

Saturday, March 26, 2005

South Sudan: French energy giant Total in oil talks with SPLM/A over White Nile

Today, the UK's Independent reveals that French energy giant Total has opened talks with the new Government of South Sudan in the hope of getting them to repudiate an oil deal with UK based White Nile. Excerpt:

Total agreed exploration rights with Khartoum in the Eighties and says it has paid an annual fee to maintain those rights throughout the civil war, which made production impossible. It re-signed the deal in December.

The nascent government set up a state-owned oil company called Nile Petroleum last summer, which claims to have taken legal possession of concessions in its territory. White Nile agreed a deal with Nile Petroleum last month. "The signature of contract by White Nile is just not valid. It is against contract rights and against the peace agreement," a Total spokesman said yesterday.

White Nile expected Total to attempt a deal with the new authorities and said they were "fully confident in the relationship with the South Sudan government". White Nile was attempting to demonstrate that relationship yesterday by flying several British journalists to the region for meetings with the authority's new ministers.

Full Story by Stephen Foley, UK Independent, March 24, 2005.

Headquarters of Total
Headquarters of the oil group Total in the western Paris suburb of La Defense. Total is in partners on above southern Sudan deal with US oil company, Marathon, based in Texas, USA.
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South Sudan pipeline to assist region - "SPLM/A could become a dominant power in the region"

A report at Petroleum World News March 7, 2005 says, "Nile Petroleum's holding in UK-listed White Nile would be the first time an African national oil company had a market listing, albeit indirect, on a major international stock exchange". Excerpt:

White Nile Ltd. (UK Based) intends to help South Sudan build its own pipeline, bypassing the north and providing it further regional clout, said Andrew Groves, Director & Co Founder of White Nile.

The autonomous southern authority is a successor to the South Sudan's People Liberation Movement, or SPLM, which has waged a two decades of war against the north's central government before signing a peace treaty on Jan. 9.

A pipeline already routes Sudan's oil from the south to the north's Port Sudan on the Red Sea. "SPLM could become a dominant power in the region," Groves said. "Southern Ethiopia and Uganda would be opening up" to South Sudan's oil exports, he explained. In addition, the autonomous authority intends to build its own refinery, he said.

It's unclear how a construction deal between White Nile and the South Sudan government would turn out. But the interests of the company and the authority are set to become strongly intertwined.

White Nile previously said South Sudan - via state-owned Nile Petroleum - will get a substantial stake in the company following the award of the oil rights.

Nile Petroleum's holding in U.K.-listed White Nile would be the first time an African national oil company had a market listing, albeit indirect, on a major international stock exchange.

Separately, Groves said the South Sudan government had also been contacted for potential oil rights by numerous companies, Energy Africa, which is part of Tullow PLC of Ireland and Sinopec of China. Sinopec and Tullow couldn't be reached.
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UN peacekeepers for South Sudan to assist African Union in Darfur - Janjaweed in South Darfur causes alarm

Good news concerning security in Sudan. The UN Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to send 10,000 troops and up to 715 civilian police to South Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by Dr John Garang, a former rebel and US educated economist.

The primary mandate of the UN peacekeeping force (UNMIS) includes assisting the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) "with a view towards expeditiously reinforcing the effort to foster peace in Darfur," said the US-sponsored resolution.

Recent UN news reports suggest it could take until June for UN troops to start arriving in South Sudan and at least six months to reach full strength. Meanwhile, there is growing talk of Khartoum agreeing to doubling the number of AU troops in Darfur, bringing the contingent to more than 6,000 troops, in addition to the 9,000-10,000 aid workers currently in Sudan.

Why can't China and other countries with oil interests in Sudan supply tens of thousands more aid workers? The rainy season will fall upon Darfur again soon. Last year, there were huge problems getting aid through. It had to be airlifted. Several months ago, Libya had agreed to provide a route for aid trucks to get into Darfur bu, in two recent interviews, US Secretary of State Rice, reveals problems [that have not been reported in the press as far as I know]. In one interview she says the access for humanitarian aid has worsened over the last month and in another interview she says, about Libya: "We've worked with the Libyans to have another supply route. It was going pretty well for a while. I think there's been some slowing in that over the last month or so. We're very concerned about it and we're pressing that issue very hard with Khartoum." It makes one wonder if Libya is now unable to open the route from Libya into Darfur because of certain issues between the international community and Khartoum, especially the one in the news last month concerning Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's comments on Kofi Annan's call for NATO and EU intervention in Darfur.

In the UN draft resolution approved yesterday, point number 5 states, quote: "request the Secretary-General to report to the Council within 30 days on options for how UNMIS can reinforce the effort to foster peace in Darfur through appropriate assistance to AMIS, including logistical support and technical assistance, and to identify ways in liaison with the AU to utilize UNMIS's resources, particularly logistical and operations support elements, as well as reserve capacity towards this end" [Coalition for Darfur has links to two draft resolutions, including the one by France]

A report just out via UPI says Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said that while his country welcomed the peacekeeping forces in the south, he insisted against "expanding their mission" to Darfur. I wonder why. One can only speculate that Khartroum feel weakened by losing power over South Sudan and fear losing power over Darfur. Even if they see the writing on the wall, it's going to be a long haul. The warring parties need to be forced to sit down and keep talking until a deal is sorted. Why is the inevitable being dragged out for so long? It will end up in a political deal whether it is a week or decades from now. Someone should knock their heads together, pronto. Imposing sanctions, no fly zones, embargoes and travel bans won't help. Too long to explain here the reasons why. I still maintain the Chinese could be doing a lot more to help behind the scenes. Sudan has a lot going for it but appears to be its own worst enemy.

At the present time, a nine-man African Union Ministerial Committee, represented by South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan are on a four-day visit to Sudan, interacting with the Sudanese government, NGOs and others in different parts of the Sudan to assess areas of need and the type of interventions that can be initiated. Their report will be presented to the international donors conference next month in Oslo, Norway.

Intense negotiations have gone on between all sides and many others, including the World Bank, over the past few months regarding the UN peacekeeping force, development of Sudan's infrastructure and resources, along with its debts and international funding for development and aid. As a result, Darfur has been unusually quiet for a good number of days, which is good news.

However, according to the latest UN situation report dated March 24, 2005, there is an increased presence of bandits and Janjaweed near two IDP camps in South Darfur, causing considerable disquiet amongst IDPs. One can never be sure of how much control Khartoum has over Sudan's bandits and militias. Sudan's First Vice-President Taha, recently interviewed in the national palace by Emily Wax for The Washington Post, called the Janjaweed "bandits" and said they were beyond the government's immediate control.

Over the past year, Khartoum has defended its killings of civilians by saying it occurs because the rebels in Darfur hide behind and live amongst their kin. Rebels do not wear uniforms. Civilians are treated by their government as rebels or rebel supporters. The Government of Sudan uses Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, to smash the rebellion in Darfur because the Sudanese Army forces are full of soldiers from Darfur who cannot be trusted to defend against the uprising.

Since January of this year, reports of attacks in Darfur are few and far between. Every few days or so I receive, via email, UN Sudan Situation Reports. Up until the end of last year, the emails reported many incidents of violence. Lately, the fighting in Darfur has definitely subsided. Wheeling and dealing by all sides is going on involving billlions of dollars. Peace, security and the future of Sudan and the 'New Sudan' in the south is at stake. Sudan's rebels are switched on and appear to know when to move and not to move.

Here is a copy of the latest UN situation report received by email today. Note, under "Protection Issues" Khartoum controls the "Form 8" business which, I guess, involves rape victims. Going by the report, victims can opt to pursue legal action and seek legal redress. You have to wonder what it means for the victims.

24 March 2005
Key Developments:

The Security Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution this afternoon to establish the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) with an authorised troop strength of up to 10,000 and a civilian component including up to 715 civilian police. This new mission's primary mandate is to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement but it has also been tasked to assist the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) foster peace in the Darfur region. Please see [see above link] accompanying copy of the draft resolution, as it was adopted, for more details.
Humanitarian assistance in SLA areas in North Darfur was again interrupted due to a breakdown in the notification system, as the replacement for the SLM/A Humanitarian Coordinator was unavailable for several days. A new SLM/A focal point has been identified and a meeting took place with UN officials on 23 Mar.

Security Issues:

South Darfur: Protection agencies operating in the Beliel and Kalma IDP camps have reported an increased presence of bandits and armed men on camels in their immediate vicinity. This has added to the instability of the situation and has raised considerable disquiet amongst the IDP population.
West Darfur: UN and NGO Agencies have resumed road travel on West Darfur roads south of Seleia with assessments on-going in Arara, Beita, Masterri, and areas north of Serba. With yesterday's opening of Sanidadi, only the roads under assessment remain NO GO.

Protection Issues:

General: A mission comprising representatives from the UNAMIS Human Rights Office and GoS met with UN and NGO agencies working on protection to discuss the recent Ministry of Justice (MoJ) circular disseminated to GoS officials, Ministry of Health (MoH), police, the prosecutor's office, NGOs and UN agencies. The mission stated that every clinic or hospital (including all NGO clinics) can treat GBV survivors freely without any fear of negative consequences. However, not every NGO clinic can fill Form 8 for the survivor in the event she opts to pursue legal action. The only NGO clinics with authority to fill in Form 8 in North Darfur are IRC, Saudi Red Crescent, and the Egyptian military clinic (all operating in the Abu Shouk camp), as well as MSF- Belgium in Kebkabiya and Saraf Umra. The GoS representatives explained that there is a need to separate the issue of access to medical services from those of seeking legal redress, reiterating a previous message that only Sudanese medical officials employed by the MoH are authorized to fill in Form 8.

West Darfur: HAC Zalingei has requested a meeting to discuss protection matters and approaches with international agencies operating in the area. OCHA and UNHCR will follow up on the proposal, which has been welcomed in the humanitarian community.

Humanitarian Affairs:


North Darfur: Oxfam reported that it is developing a market bulletin on a monthly basis. The first such bulletin is likely be released by the end of this month. Oxfam is currently conducting an assessment on the livelihoods options together with the women development associations' network in El Fasher town.
FAO completed a three-day workshop on livestock, pastures, grazing lands, animal migration routes and water resources problems yesterday in El Fasher town.
South Darfur: Agencies involved in the distribution of NFIs remain slow to present distribution plans for the forthcoming rainy season, potentially delaying responses to OCHA and UNJLC. It is expected that cases of ARI, malaria and water-borne diseases will increase with the onset of the rainy season.
West Darfur: The UNJLC is about to reach targetted stock levels soon and plans a general distributions of NFI in West Darfur. A number of obstacles exist, however, including the upcoming rains and gaining access to some areas of need.


North Darfur: According to the WHO weekly morbidity and mortality weekly bulletin released today, acute respiratory tract infections accounted for the largest number of reported deaths cases in North Darfur in the last reporting week. At today's health coordination meeting, WHO also unveiled plans to conduct a campaign against leprosy and TB in North Darfur.
South Darfur: 2,000 meningitis vaccinations arrived in South Darfur for use by humanitarian agencies, and WHO/MERT has requested staff numbers and locations from all agencies in order to prepare a plan of priority vaccinations for the most at-risk.
West Darfur: MSF-CH has said that it is planning on withdrawing from its role in water provision in Abu Zar School. The Wat/San sector is collectively discussing ways to fill the gap.


Bahr El Jebel: In an effort to update its beneficiary caseload figure, WFP fielded eight teams of 35 persons to conduct a headcount, verification and registration of IDPs, returnees and vulnerable people. The exercise is to be conducted in Terekeka, Glatokh, Kuda, Mekiu and Rokon from 21 to 26 Mar.


Bahr El Jebel: 320 desks produced by Swedish Free Mission with support from UNHCR were distributed to four schools in Bahr El Jebel State. According to Sudan Aid, students coming from the neighbouring countries and the countryside are facing language problem as they once received instruction in English, while here all schools except church schools are in Arabic. The result is overcrowding in church schools where a class accommodates 70 - 90 students per class. There is a need to improve rural schools so that the number of pupils coming to towns is reduced.
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See readers' comments at BBC News online report titled "South Sudan peace force approved". Here are a few:

"The situation in the Darfur region will have a negative effect on the south-north peace accord. The only thing that the UN and international community can do is to put more pressure on the northern government to stop the killings in Darfur. As a Sudanese I want the northern government to tell us what part of Sudan is this community called the jajiweed located and where do they get Sudanese army uniform and weapons? Stop misleading the world, we need the conflict to come to an end. - Palath Thonchar, NY"

"If Khartoum withdraws completely from the South and stop its interference in the southern Sudan affairs there will be peace there. What the SPLA/M needs is financial and technical aid to transform it into a modern political party and into a conventional army. The other key factor in the peace is the construction of the infrastructure including roads, telecommunications, schools and hospitals. The leadership in southern Sudan should also diversify its production. Social justice is also key to lasting peace and prosperity. - Henry Maina Reriani, Nairobi "


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