SUDAN WATCH: Sudan discovers new oilfield in southern Kordofan

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sudan discovers new oilfield in southern Kordofan

Perhaps the following report gives us a glimpse into why last month JEM/NRF rebel group targeted their attack on Hamrat al-Sheikh in northern Kordofan resulting in Sudanese planes being deployed to defend the attack in which, reportedly, 12 people were killed.

Sudan has discovered a new oilfield in the southern Kordofan region, which is pumping 24,000 barrels per day (bpd) and hopes to reach 40,000 bpd, the oil ministry said on Wednesday. - Reuters report via ST Aug 3, 2006:
The Neem oilfield is in oil block 4 run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). It is in South Kordofan, an area of conflict between Sudan's north and south who signed a peace deal in January 2005 to end Africa's longest civil war.

"It is expected that the crude oil reserves in Neem oil field are very large," the ministry said in a statement. It gave no further details.

The ministry did not say when the field would reach 40,000 bpd. It was pumping 24,000 bpd in July 2006.


Photo: Chinese manpower at an oil field of Petrodar in southern Sudan. (Petrodar)

GNPOC is a consortium of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. CNPC (40 percent), state-owned Malaysian Petronas (30 percent) and India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. ONGC (25 percent). Five percent belongs to Sudanese state-owned Sudapet.

It operates Sudan's main oil pipelines, which pump around 320,000 bpd of crude. Another pipeline opened earlier this year to raise production to 500,000 bpd. But due to technical problems this has been delayed likely to end of the year.

Sudan's oil was a crucial catalyst in its bitter north-south conflict and the Neem field is in an area which is still contested between the two sides despite last year's peace deal.

The boundaries of the central neighbouring states of Abyei and South Kordofan were decided by an independent commission under the accord. But the northern ruling National Congress Party rejects the commission's findings.

Critics attribute this to their desire to hang onto some of the oil, which lies mainly in the south.

Western companies divested from Sudan's petroleum industry amid allegations of rights abuses during the north-south war. Oil companies were often accused by southerners of forcibly removing their people from their land to explore for oil.


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