Talisman to expand the killing fields in Sudan
Reuters reports (Nov 20) that the company will begin drilling new wells in the huge Block 4 Concession area lying mainly to the west and south of Heglig and Unity Fields. The “human cost of oil” (to borrow from Amnesty International’s title) may be about to go up considerably. And not all the dead will necessarily be Sudanese.
Eric Reeves [November 21, 2000]
Smith College firstname.lastname@example.org
Northampton, MA 01063
The new roads that Talisman declares it will build for its wells at Timor-1, Shalongo-1, and the Timsah-1 exploratory well in the Block 4 Concession area will expand significantly their “security” requirements. And “security” for Talisman and its Greater Nile partners China and Malaysia has meant scorched-earth warfare for the civilians in the oil regions. Rape, pillaging, torture, mutilation, murder, burning of villages and foodstocks—all has been painstakingly documented by Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteurs, the Harker Mission report, and abundant reports from on-the-ground sources.
Human “displacement arrows” which go in all directions (except north) from the Heglig and Unity fields will grow in size and number. (See Peter Verney’s superb research on this subject at:
According to Reuters, Talisman is using the present dry season in Sudan to build new roads into the Block 4. It is important to bear in mind not just the mainly southern and western direction of Block 4, but its immense size: it is more than twice as large as Unity (Block 1) and Heglig (Block 2) combined! And it extends much, much closer to the areas of most intense fighting in Western Upper Nile and Bahr el-Ghazal provinces.
For example, Canadian workers in the southernmost tip of the Concession area would be extremely vulnerable to SPLA attack from the Gogrial area (Gogrial is the highly significant government garrison town that fell to the SPLA last spring), or from the Mayom area (scene of very heavy fighting last spring in which a large government force was destroyed by the SPLA).
Talisman may be testing the waters with this announcement; they may be confident that their “security” arrangements are in place; or they may have badly misjudged the vulnerability of Canadian nationals working in Block 4, as opposed to Heglig and Unity blocks.
Clearly they think that the hydrocarbon riches are worth the gamble—especially if the risk is to Sudanese lives and livelihood.
Talisman’s boiler-plate response at this juncture would likely be that they are “constructively engaged” in Sudan. Indeed, a fatuous publication by Talisman lawyers Jacqueline Sheppard and Reg Manhas in Oil & Gas Journal (Volume 98, Issue 46 [Nov 13, 2000]) declares, with breathtaking disingenuousness, that their role in Sudan may be a source of peace:
“The increased prosperity that business brings to underdeveloped countries can become a significant incentive to peace.”
They clearly haven’t read the latest IMF report (November 2000) on Sudan, which makes abundantly clear that even as the critical agricultural sector of the economy is perilously under-capitalized, expenditures—acknowledged expenditures!—for military purposes have doubled in the time during which Talisman has been present in Sudan (from $166 million in 1998, the year in which Talisman entered Sudan, to $327 million this year).
This is where Talisman-generated oil money is going: for guns, not agriculture. Human destruction and war-sustaining military acquisitions are what Talisman has brought to Sudan. And with the incentive of yet more oil revenues from Block 4 and elsewhere in the south, the Khartoum regime remains convinced that it can purchase a military victory.
Talisman’s presence is a terribly, unconscionably destructive one—and it’s taking a turn for the worse. This is corporate behavior at its most rapacious, most savage—and most disingenuously self-excusing. Their growing infamy will leave not only an indelible stain on corporate reputation, but continue to exact a greater and greater price in the capital markets. There will be no forgetting this complicity in crimes against humanity.
CALGARY, Nov 20, 2000 (Reuters) – Talisman Energy Inc. , Canada’s biggest global oil producer, will soon drill three new exploration wells in war-plagued Sudan that could double its reserves in the African country, the company said on Monday.
The Calgary company has been subject to intense scrutiny from activists who say its activities in Sudan are prolonging an 18-year civil war pitting the mainly Christian and animist black African south against the Arabised north.
The south’s fight for secular rule and autonomy from the Islamist led north is complicated by tribal conflicts and factional fighting which blur the crude north-south divide.
“We’ll start drilling before the end of the year and if all three plays work, proven reserves could increase from 50 to 100 percent,” said Nigel Hares, Talisman’s vice-president of international operations.
Analyst Martin Molyneaux of FirstEnergy Capital Corp. said adding low-cost oil reserves from Sudan boosts Talisman’s corporate performance — while raising the political costs.
“Sudan is one of the few places in the world where you can bring lots of oil onstream quickly and inexpensively which is pipeline-connected to markets,” said Molyneaux.
“However, they still suffer a Sudan discount in their share price because U.S. government sanctions on Sudan make some American investors think twice about jumping into Talisman.”
The Clinton administration has delayed U.N. Security Council consideration on lifting sanctions against Sudan until after the U.S. presidential elections are concluded.
Talisman has a 25 percent interest in the 4.9 million-hectare oil project in the Heglig region of the African country which has proven reserves of 850 million barrels.
Its partners in the field, now producing about 200,000 barrels daily, are China National Petroleum Corp, Malaysia state oil company Petronas, and the Sudan government.
The consortium will drill the Zafir-1 well in block 2a and the Timor-1 and Shalongo-1 wells in block 4 of its concession.
All three are targeting structures about 40 to 50 million barrels in size which have the potential to increase to at least 250 million barrels each if adjoining pools contain as much oil as thought, said
Four drilling rigs in Sudan are doing a mixture of development and exploration work.
“We’re just getting into the six months of dry season in Sudan when we have access to block 4, so we’re building roads at the moment,” said Hares.
Any new discoveries would be shipped along the 1,500 kilometre pipeline from the oil fields to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. It has a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day that could be increased to
450,000 bpd by adding new pumping stations, the company said.
Talisman added that it will begin testing the economic viability of the Timsah-1 well in block 4 within a week.
“That’s a well we drilled earlier this summer and it has hydrocarbon indications in it. We expect to know what’s down there in about a month,” said Hares.