In an extraordinary development, Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday that it will now try to prevent supplies of its aviation fuel from being used by Khartoum’s military aircraft, in particular the Antonov bombers that have repeatedly targeted civilians and humanitarian relief throughout southern Sudan. In stark contrast, Talisman Energy of Canada, along with its consortium partners, continues to supply all the crude oil used by the refinery at El Obeid in central Sudan. This refinery (with a 10,000 barrel/day capacity) sits astride Talisman’s 1000-mile oil pipeline—and lies immediately adjacent to Khartoum’s major forward military airbase. This airbase, which receives all fuel from the El Obeid refinery, serves as the staging point for most of the bombing attacks on civilians and humanitarian relief in the oil regions of southern Sudan. It is from El Obeid that fuel is supplied to the helicopter gunships using Talisman facilities for ongoing assaults on civilians.
Eric Reeves [May 18, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Talisman’s complicity in war crimes in the oil regions of Sudan takes many forms; a catalog of some of the most egregious examples of such complicity was reported on May 16 by this source. But one form of Talisman’s complicity that has received far too little attention is their willingness to supply all the crude oil needed for the El Obeid refinery, which in turn supplies the “Avgas” (aviation fuel) and diesel necessary for the Khartoum regime’s military efforts, in particular, their now well-documented bomber and helicopter gunships attacks on civilians.
The fact that the El Obeid refinery receives its crude oil from Talisman and its concession partners was actually acknowledged by Talisman CEO Jim Buckee in a commentary piece in The Ottawa Citizen (Oct 18, 1999). Notably, it was in this same piece that Mr. Buckee described Sudan as “increasingly a source of relative regional stability.” This will perhaps give a sense of how well Mr. Buckee understands Sudan’s terrible realities.
So perhaps Canadians might wish to ask what better represents their national aspirations and sense of moral obligation in foreign development activities: Royal Dutch Shell’s determination to make “every effort to ensure that its aviation fuel would not be used in military aircraft launching bombing raids in southern Sudan” [The Guardian (UK), May 19, 2001]—or Talisman Energy’s ongoing and ready willingness to supply all the crude oil necessary for the 10,000 barrel/day refinery at El Obeid, and thus the bulk of the military aviation fuel used to conduct scorched-earth warfare in Talisman’s concession areas.
Here geography tells an important part of this story: the El Obeid refinery lies almost 400 kilometers southwest of Khartoum (this is far and away the most southerly refinery generating military fuel). It was previously an expensive and difficult task for the Khartoum regime to transport imported crude oil to El Obeid and keep its military aircraft supplied with aviation fuel. But that was before Talisman and its partners built a pipeline right to the refinery, insuring that fuel for the Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships would be much more readily, efficiently, and cheaply available.
Available for what? The litany of atrocities committed against civilians by Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships has a terrible familiarity. But the horror never ceases to be new for Sudanese victims: schools, churches, hospitals, and emergency feeding stations deliberately bombed by the Khartoum regime in an effort to destroy southern civil society; helicopter gunships strafing villages, as well as fleeing women and children; tukuls, foodstuffs, cattle, seeds, and agricultural tools destroyed by helicopter-transported troops—troops who have also engaged in mass executions, torture, and mutilation of unarmed, noncombatant civilians.
And the critical element in all this is the fuel refined at El Obeid—refined from crude oil supplied by Talisman and its partners. This is not speculation; it is the demonstrable logistical reality of the Khartoum regime’s brutal assault on civilians. Talisman plays a key part, and admits that its crude is refined at El Obeid, the only refinery in this part of Sudan.
Royal Dutch Shell has taken an appropriate first step in seeking to halt its own complicity in aerial assaults on civilians. Talisman has chosen to supply all the crude oil necessary for Khartoum to continue its air war on civilians.
Does this concern John Manley and the Canadian Foreign Ministry? There is no sign that it does. Thus the real question is: does this silence concern Canadians?
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The Guardian (London), May 18, 2001
“Shell tries to block bomber fuel”
BY: Terry Macalister
Shell yesterday promised every effort to ensure that its aviation fuel
would not be used in military aircraft launching bombing raids in southern Sudan.
The commitment by the chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, came at its annual general meeting after a shareholder spoke of deep concern’ that the company was aiding the continuation of a bitter civil war.
Sir Mark said Shell’s 60 retail outlets did not refuel military jets but
admitted it was possible some supplies were being diverted. He said: I think I can assure you that we’re looking at the situation and making sure about what we should do in line with our principles.’
The conflict has killed an estimated 2m people and forced millions more to leave their homes.
Sir Mark also defended Shell’s performance in Nigeria where it was
criticised from the floor of the meeting over renewed oil spills in the Niger Delta. The company had been unable to get crews in to secure wells despite repeated requests for permission.
Phil Watts, who takes over as chairman on July 1, said the company was working with the Ogoni people to improve social and economic conditions in the Delta area.
I am not saying Shell in Nigeria is perfect but we are making determined efforts to do things well,’ he said.
News Article by Reuters posted on May 17,
2001 at 12:28:30: EST (-5 GMT)
“Shell to stop Sudan military using its jet fuel”
LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch/Shell said on Thursday it will try to prevent supplies of its aviation fuel in Sudan from
being used in military planes launching bombing raids in the south of the country.
Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart said Shell’s network of just under 60 fuel retail outlets in Sudan did not refuel any military planes
“But it’s possible that some of our oil ends up in military aircraft,” he told Shell’s annual general meeting in London in reply to
shareholder concerns over involvement is Sudan’s long-running civil war.
Moody-Stuart added: “We are indeed taking steps to ensure fuel doesn’t end up in military planes.