“Increasingly, Sudan is becoming a source of relative regional stability.”
Jim Buckee, CEO of Talisman Energy, The Ottawa Citizen, October 18, 1999
“More than 3.2 million people in Sudan are facing serious food and water shortages because of the combined disruptions of a civil war and a widening drought, according to the director of the United Nations World Food Program.”
(The New York Times, December 18, 2000)
Eric Reeves [December 18, 2000]
Northampton, MA 01063
The grotesque disparity between Talisman’s assessment of the situation in Sudan and the terrible realities of the country are captured in stark fashion in these paired newspaper items.
Such disparity must be borne in mind when trying to reconcile Talisman’s claim that they are “constructively engaged” in Sudan, and the recent escalation in civilian bombings that is doing so much to destroy and displace civilians in the south. For these bombings, in which Talisman is deeply and variously complicit, are one of the major factors in the food shortage referred to by the director of the UN World Food Program. Military bombings have the devastating effect of producing massive civilian dispersal, and thus disrupt agricultural production and economic exchange—precisely Khartoum’s goal.
And just how is Talisman implicated in the bombings of schools, hospitals, undefended villages, emergency feeding stations, and humanitarian relief? There are a number of ways.
 All the aviation fuel used by the regime’s Antonov bombers based at El Obeid military air field in central Sudan comes from the 10,000 barrel/day refinery that is also located at El Obeid, directly adjacent to the Greater Nile project pipeline. The refinery receives all its crude from this pipeline. Talisman is a 25% partner in the Greater Nile project and pipeline.
 All Sudanese revenues from the Greater Nile project go directly to the Khartoum regime, completely ungoverned and fully available for military use. Indeed, a confidential IMF report tabled in November makes clear that in the time Talisman has been in Sudan, acknowledged military expenditures by the Khartoum regime have doubled (even as the IMF also makes clear that the critical agricultural sector remains undercapitalized).
 Talisman continues to provide “moral cover” to this savagely brutal regime—one reason that the deliberate and ongoing bombing of civilians and humanitarian relief has received woefully inadequate condemnation. How does Talisman provide “moral cover”? One example. Earlier this year, Reuters news service reported Abdelbagi Kabir, deputy director of Sudan’s “peace and humanitarian affairs” department, as saying, “the investment by Talisman and others showed there was no truth to the idea that Sudan was a deeply divided state with fundamental internal problems. ‘We (think this) foreign investment could only be evidence of tranquillity and a prosperous atmosphere.'”
Talisman and its Greater Nile partners provide aviation fuel for the bombers; they provide oil revenues to keep the air war on civilians going; and Talisman in particular provides “moral cover” for those callous enough to believe that a Canadian corporate presence in the midst of Sudan’s civil war is in any way “constructive.”
And the bombings themselves? What precisely is Talisman investing in? The larger picture has recently been made all too clear by the distinguished US Committee for Refugees (December 13, 2000):
“Deliberate bombings of civilian and humanitarian targets in Sudan by Sudanese government planes have doubled this year compared to last year, according to field reports by humanitarian workers compiled by the U.S. Committee for Refugees.
“Sudanese planes have bombed civilian sites at least 132 times this year through December 12, compared to 65 known aerial bombings last year. The intensified bombing campaign continues to kill and terrorize innocent civilians, disrupt international relief efforts, and push families from their land and livelihoods. Sudanese government aircraft have struck civilian and humanitarian targets at least 259 times during the past four years.”
And what is the human face of these bombings? Just a couple of very recent snapshots from the scores of aerial assaults on civilians and humanitarian relief:
 Agence France-Presse, November 27, 2000:
“In a statement sent to AFP, Sudan Production Aid (SUPRAID), a member of the UN-led umbrella agency Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), said that a Sudanese military plane made three bombing passes over Panlit village in Bahr el-Ghazal’s Twic County at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) on Friday.
Fourteen bombs were dropped in all, one of which fell within El- Obeid diocese-sponsored and administered Panlit Missionary School, demolishing two of its classrooms.
Another round hit a herd of grazing cattle, killing 73 cows instantly, the statement said.
It said that although no human losses have been reported, most of the 700 children at the school fled to the bush or their villages. The school has yet to account for most of the missing children.”
 UN Integrated Regional Information Network November 27, 2000 [Nairobi]
“On Saturday [November 25, 2000], more bombing raids took place near Turalei, causing mass panic. People are afraid to venture towards Turalei centre, and bush shops remained shut. The Nuer inhabitants of a displaced people’s camp fled and have not returned.
SUPRAID said many of them were returnees from Western Upper Nile, and had probably gone back to that area.”
 UN Integrated Regional Information Network November 22, 2000 [Nairobi]
“A supervisor for the polio vaccination campaign in Sudan was killed during a bombing raid in Parajok, Torit, eastern Equatoria on 22 October. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that the killing—which has just come to light—happened during the national immunisation campaign when the government and rebel factions agreed to a ‘period of tranquillity.’
Mark Odera was a local volunteer and supervisor, working for the polio campaign carried out in Parajok under the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the source, Odera was ‘delivering details of the results of the campaign’ when he was killed. During the ‘period of tranquillity,’ the Sudanese government continued to bomb southern Sudan, which UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy condemned as ‘a violation.'”