Monday, April 18, 2005

Sudan: New oil field in Darfur expected to produce crude oil by August 2005 - Videocon + White Nile update

Further to April 16 post here at Sudan Watch re Darfur oil, PANA news today says Sudan has discovered an oil field in Darfur expected to produce 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day by August of this year, a cabinet minister revealed in Khartoum Saturday. Excerpt:
The announcement made by the minister of energy and Mining Awad Ahmed Al-Jazz at a news conference did not surprise many oil experts here because previous reports had indicated the region has untapped oil, gold, iron, silver as well as natural gas.

Most of Sudan's current oil production comes from oil fields in southern Sudan, where a peace treaty was signed recently between the government and rebels on 9 January this year.

According to the accord signed in Nairobi, Kenya, 50% of oil revenues from the south will go to the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), while Khartoum takes the other half.
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Videocon to buy stake in Sudan oil field

April 16, 2005 Sify India report excerpt:

Videocon signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Khartoum province in Sudan last month for investing and developing oil projects there. The company planned to take a stake of up to 76 per cent in an offshore Sudanese field located in the Red Sea, which it will explore along with a consortium of global partners.
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April 15, 2005 Reuters Mumbai report excerpt:

Financial services company Videocon Industries has decided to invest $100 million for a 76 per cent stake in an oil field in Sudan, Chairman VN Dhoot said on Friday.

"The Videocon group wants to expand in the energy sector and Sudan is opening up and has good oil fields," he told the agency.

India, which imports 70 per cent of its oil needs and barely produces the gas it consumes, has been encouraging companies to chase up energy ventures.

Videocon signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Khartoum province in Sudan last month for investing and developing oil projects there, the company said in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

It said Videocon's board was also considering investing in the development and exploration of oil in India and in the Middle East.

The group, which also makes televisions and home appliances, already has a stake in the Indian oil field, Raava, located in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the country's eastern shore.

ONGC Videsh, a unit of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, is already active in Sudan with equity stakes in some projects.
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ONGC lines up $350 m for overseas drill

April 17, 2005 New Delhi, Telegraph Calcutta India report - copy:

ONGC-Videsh Ltd has committed an expenditure of over $350 million to explore overseas oil blocks that it recently acquired in Sudan, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Qatar, Libya and Australia. Senior officials say this is the 'minimum committed expenditure' and investment will be stepped up if there is a major oil or gas find.

The highest expenditure of $269 million has been earmarked for block 5A in Sudan, in which OVL has a 24 per cent stake. The block is being operated by Malaysian oil giant Petronas, which has a 68.9 per cent share.

Similarly, OVL will invest $26 million in block 5B in Sudan, also operated by Petronas. While the Malaysian firm owns a 41 per cent share in it, OVL has 23.5 per cent.

OVL has a 100 per cent participating interest in the Najwat Najem oil structure in Qatar, in which it will invest $15.5 million. It also has an interest in a block in Libya, where the first two wells that were drilled have turned out to be dry and the company is gearing up for spudding another two.

This shows that oil exploration has an element of risk involved in it and having acquired a stake in an overseas exploration block may or may not lead to an oil find.

OVL had also acquired a stake in a gas block in the US offshore, which it had handed over to Oil India Ltd. But this venture had to be abandoned as the drilling did not yield any hydrocarbons.

OVL has committed an expenditure of $7.2 million as its 55 per cent share in Block WA in Australia, where Antrim Energy Inc is the operator with a 32.5 per cent share.

The Indian company will also invest $21.8 million in the Ivory Coast block, where OIL has a 11.5 per cent stake. The other major shareholders are Sinopec of China and Vanco, both with 30 per cent.

The government is planning to strengthen OVL by increasing its equity base. Following the success story of the Sakhalin and raising returns from the Greater Nile project in Sudan, ONGC-Videsh is no more a fledgling company.

The offshore Vietnam gas field and the large gas find in Myanmar, where ONGC and Gail have a 30 per cent stake, have put the OVL into the big league.
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White Nile must provide another document to relist shares

By Simeon Kerr LONDON, Apr 13, 2005 (Dow Jones) -- Shares in White Nile Ltd. (WNL.LN) will remain suspended until at least the last week of April as London's Alternative Investment Market has asked for the firm to provide more documentation, a top executive said Wednesday.

Andrew Groves, co-founder of the firm that hopes to develop a disputed oil tract in southern Sudan, says AIM asked White Nile last Friday to get southern officials to provide more information before the firm can relist.

"The exchange was very supportive, we just need another document," Groves told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview from South Africa.

Groves, who declined to elaborate on the nature of the extra document, said he would hold meetings with officials from the soon-to-be-formed southern Sudanese regional government next Thursday and Friday in Nairobi, Kenya.

He hopes to relist the stock - suspended for two months after rising thirteen-fold on the south Sudan deal - once these meetings produce the final document required by the stock exchange.

This document will be included in the much-delayed information circular detailing the firm's southern Sudanese deal that White Nile has to distribute to investors before its shares reopen for trading.

The circular had been expected Thursday or Friday.

White Nile on Feb. 16 said it had an agreement with the government of South Sudan for a 60% stake in Block Ba, more than half of the huge Block B claimed by a consortium consisting of Total SA (TOT), Marathon Oil (MRO) and Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPT.YY)

Nile Petroleum Corp., the south's state-owned firm, holds the remaining 40%, and will take a 50% stake in White Nile once the stock relists.

Total executives say White Nile lacks the expertise and finance to exploit the potentially huge amounts of oil in the block. The French major also says the White Nile deal runs counter to January's peace agreement that ended two decades of north-south conflict.

Total is seeking to meet senior southern Sudanese officials over the next few weeks to press its case, but it has yet to secure a meeting with John Garang, who led the south's insurgency against the northern government and will head the south's autonomous government.

Groves said U.K.-based Exploration Consultants Ltd. estimates that raising 150,000 barrels a day of crude output in Block Ba would cost $120 million.

A $1.4 billion pipeline linking the southern oil fields to the Indian Ocean via Kenya would be funded through bank bonds once seismic surveys prove there are commercial quantities of crude oil in the block, he said.

South Sudanese foreign commissioner Costello Garang is scheduled to meet the press and White Nile investors next week in London.
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Harvard Divests in PetroChina, Sudan Genocide

Apr 15, 2005 report by David Kute and Leeshai Lemish, The Epoch Times. Excerpt:

PetroChina is a division of the China National Petroleum Corporation, a Chinese state-owned company that is one of the key players in the Sudanese oil industry. According to Pitzer College's Sudanese Professor Lako Tongun, China has been selling weapons to the genocidal Sudanese government, and China's veto power kept the United Nations from issuing a strong resolution on the crisis.

"Divestment is not a step that Harvard takes lightly," said Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers in a press release. "But I believe there is a compelling case for action in these special circumstances, in light of the terrible situation still unfolding in Darfur and the leading role played by PetroChina's parent company in the Sudanese oil industry, which is so important to the Sudanese regime."

Harvard President Lawrence Summers April, 2005
Photo: Cambridge, MA., April 2005: Harvard President Lawrence Summers releases press statement about divesting PetroChina investment. (Jodi Hilton/Getty Images)

The effort at Harvard has inspired student organizations at other schools to take similar steps. In California's Claremont Colleges, the Genocide Awareness Committee is spearheading an effort to inquire into their own colleges' investments while calling upon other schools to do the same. In a letter distributed from students at the Claremont Colleges to other universities last week, groups commended Harvard's decision to divest.

"No matter how profitable it might be for a college or university to invest in PetroChina or any other company entangled in this genocide," their letter said, "we must condemn such a position as utterly immoral."
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Second Sudanese student dies of protest injuries

A Sudanese student has died of the injuries he sustained during clashes with riot police in the capital last week, an official said on today, Monday April 18, 2005.

Khaled Mohammed Nour, 22, a student of commerce at Nilein University in Khartoum, died in hospital on Sunday night, the Interior Ministry official said. Police beat him on the head during the protests last Thursday, a student source said.

He was the second Sudanese student to die in the protests against the conduct of student elections at the University of Ed Delenj in central Sudan. The protesters say the elections were rigged in favour of pro-government candidates. - via SudanTribune April 18, 2005.

Sudanese riot police
Photo: Sudanese riot police watch students protesting with banners outside the French embassy in Sudan's capital Khartoum April 13, 2005. (Reuters).
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A recent comment at a site somewhere on the Internet

We saw this all too well in Bosnia a decade ago. Back then, Bosnian civilians watched the aid trucks continue to roll while their neighbors were gunned-down in full daylight. "We will die with our stomachs full," they used to say. Are we now going to stand by and watch a replay in Darfur?

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