- Politics and Social Issues
Oil in the Sudan
How rich? In 1996, Canadian Independent Arakis Energy began development of the Heglig and Unity oil fields, estimated to contain recoverable reserves of anywhere from 600 million to 1.2 BILLION barrels of oil.
Oil is the major export of the Sudan, accounting for 95% of its export revenues in 2008. In 2009, there were also announcements of natural gas discoveries in the Sudan but these have yet to be determined to be commercially viable.
The Sudan is a major hot spot in the world political situation. The Sudan has a long, rich and colorful history; it is one of the oldest civilizations in the world; being inhabited as long ago as 60,000 years ago, and having aesthetic, religious, and political ties with ancient Egypt for centuries abounding. It was ruled by Pharaohs from 590 BC to about the beginning of the 1st century AD. They raised pyramids and stelae to record the victories of their rules.
From about the 1st century AD, the Sudan became independent of Egypt and developed it's own language, both written and spoken. The people, who mainly inhabited the northern part of the Sudan, near the Red Sea were known as Nubians.
Oil and conflicting political ideologies have brought disease, death, and displacement to the people of the Sudan in recent years.
These ancient and proud peoples have been displaced, moved ruthlessly from their homes near developing oil fields, and also slain without number.
The first conflict, between the northern Sudanese government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south finally ended, after 50 years of war, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.
The second conflict, in Darfur, brought with it a world wide recognition of the horrors being committed in the name of oil. Internally displaced populations, and international sanctions, have recently prevented oil exploration (and exploitation) in the Darfur regions, and the sanctions have prevented some of the international investment. The fighting itself has horribly damaged the country's infrastructure and limits further development of these resources.
There is plenty of oil in the Sudan. Getting it out is the problem. The country is war-torn; millions are displaced and homeless, and the rest of the world has imposed severe economic sanctions on the Sudan government, affecting the development of oil in the Sudan.
International human rights organizations have accused the Sudanese government of financing human rights abuses with oil revenues, including the mass displacement of civilians near the oil fields. Factional fighting in the south and rebel attacks on the oil infrastructure have kept oil production and exploration from reaching its full potential. Disputes over oil fuelled a civil war there which has claimed over 2 million lives, mostly from hunger and disease.
What oil revenues??? How much money are we talking???
- In March 2005 India's Videocon Industries invested $100 million for a 76% stake in an oil field in the Sudan.
- In March 2005 the Sudan signed a $400 million deal with White Nile Productions, an oil consortium of Malaysia and the India state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Company.
- You get the idea.
The Sudan-a naturally beautiful world
Remants of ancient evenings in the Sudan
Now, about 20% of the people live on less than $1.25 USD per day
We, in the west, seem to believe the conflict is generated simply by oil in the Sudan and the greed of the political powers that be.
The issues are complicated by diverse ideologies between the Northern part of Sudan and the Southern part. The Northerners have Arabic and Nubian roots. The Southerners are Christian and animist Nilotes. Arabic and English are the country's two official languages. The two diverse religions and political ideologies have been at civil war for years and years, long before the discovery of oil.
However, the conflicts were finally peacefully resolved following a referendum and a new constitution in 2005. Development of the rich oil reserves made Sudan's economy the fastest-growing in the world.
Unfortunately the peace was broken by a greedy and deplorably unhumanitarian agenda on the part of the ruling National Congress, which declared itself the ONLY political party in the state and has since supported the recruitment of Arab militias in guerrilla warfare, in the conflict in Darfur. The National Congress also adopted a strict Islamic code, and mis-uses its principals to established a greedy and corrupt national military dictatorship.
Because of the thousands upon thousands of people displaced and killed, the Darfur conflict attracted worldwide attention and has been accurately described as a genocide. All in the name of oil, or Islam, depending on what you believe.
On March 4, 2008, the International Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the first acting head of state to be indicted by the ICC.
The international process of law is slow, and the matter is still pending. The Sudan is still a hot spot, with active Arab militia in the role of "peacekeepers" and thousands suffering from poverty we cannot literally imagine, while the corrupt National Congress, who has all the oil contracts registered in its name, continues to line its pockets.
Severe sanctions from the Western world have been placed on the country due to alleged ties with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda. The Sudan, however, still does a booming business with The People's Republic of China and with Russia, who are its largest trading partners.
Oil in the Sudan meant being murdered or made homeless to so many people. China and Russia should be ashamed to be a party to it.
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