Lundin Oil of Sweden and OMV of Austria celebrate a major oil discovery in southern Sudan’s Upper Nile province; the Nuer populations destroyed and displaced by these oil operations have not joined in the celebration.
Eric Reeves |March 6, 2001
The “impressive” discovery at the Thar Jath-1 well in Upper Nile province (approximately 75 miles south of Bentiu near the town of Koch) is reported by Reuters today. But there is no mention by Reuters, or by Sweden’s Lundin Oil, or by Austria’s OMV, of the brutally destructive realities that have made possible this discovery.
The Government of Sudan—the Khartoum regime that is business partner to Lundin and OMV—has aggressively cleared the areas south of Bentiu using the same well-documented scorched-earth tactics that secured the Heglig and Unity Fields for Canada’s Talisman Energy and its partners in the Greater Nile project to the north and west of Bentiu.
A new elevated, all-weather road leading 100 kilometers south from Bentiu has allowed for Khartoum’s heavy militarization of the entire region, and the projection southward of not only the oil drilling equipment used by Lundin and OMV, but heavy weaponry—tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers.
The results have been devastating to the local Nuer population. A professional humanitarian aid worker with ongoing responsibilities in southern Sudan in the affected region, over which s/he has repeatedly flown, reports:
“All the villages that once existed along [this new all-weather road] up to Pulteri have been razed by the Government of Sudan forces. As one flies along the new oil road, the only signs of life are the lorries traveling at high speed back and forth to the oil field. Small military garrisons are clearly visible every five kilometers. The divisional headquarters at Pulteri is very impressive, as is the military installation around the oil field at Rier.”
This humanitarian aid worker has also supplied a partial list of villages destroyed by Government of Sudan forces in the areas south of Bentiu in service of concession security for Lundin Oil of Sweden and OMV of Austria:
Kuac, Wicluak, Thoar, Daw, Gawjal, Waw, Dhorbor, Kach, Gier, Gieni, Chottiel, Bangna, Kuoynyang, Norchieng Yar, Parjiek, Tiak, Raal, Dhorchieng Chuol, Kuorong, Dhoreng, Kuerchieng, Pah, and Lejak.
These are all real villages, with real inhabitants, who have been killed or displaced. They were not consulted about oil development on their land; they derive no benefits from oil development; they gain from oil development nothing but death, destruction, and displacement. And yet Reuters also reports that the next move by Lundin and OMV is to a new oil exploration site, Jarayan-1—12 kilometers further south of Thar Jath-1. And the concession block (5a) in which this activity is taking place reaches much further south into Nuer territory
Yet another terrible consequence of this ongoing destruction is that the majority of the area’s population, who once lived in villages along the road and within walking distance of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) airstrips, are now beyond reach. For OLS no longer has access to Kuac, the alternative airstrip for Duar. This access was denied by the Government of Sudan because the new oil road intersects the Kuac airstrip. Insecurity also now prevents OLS from reaching Kuey, Chaang, Bow, and Koch. In short, the entire central section of Western Upper Nile east of the Nile River is now beyond the reach of OLS.
Ominously, humanitarian aid workers do not have a clear understanding of where these populations are, or where they are headed, because of the recent fighting. Aid workers do know that all these locations suffered poor harvests because of drought and because what little food they had was lost in the fighting that began last summer.
These are the terrible realities that accompany the corporate celebrations in Stockholm and Vienna.
News Article by Reuters posted on March 06,
2001 at 05:11:26: EST (-5 GMT)
“OMV, Lundin make important Sudan oil find”
VIENNA, March 6 (Reuters) – Austrian oil and gas group OMV said on Tuesday it had discovered an “important” oil reserve in south-central Sudan.
“OMV Exploration has made a series of impressive discoveries in the last few months, but Thar Jath has the potential to be the biggest discovery by far,” the company said.
OMV said its wholly-owned subsidiary OMV (Sudan) Exploration GmbH had made the find as part of a consortium led by Swedish. Lundin subsidiary Lundin Sudan Limited.
The Thar Jath 1 drilling exploration was the first one carried out by this consortium in block 5A in Sudan, which has the potential to produce 4,620 barrels of crude oil per day.
The find lies in an area which is already being exploited, with blocks one, two and four combined already producing more than 200,000 barrels a day.
OMV said it was planning further exploration in the Jarayan-1″ field, 12 km to the south-east of the current field.
Operator Lundin has a 40.4 percent stake in the block, OMV has 26.1 percent and partners Malaysia’s Petronas and local Sudapet have 28.5 percent and five percent respectively.
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