Heglig oil field

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Production at Heglig, a disputed area in the Muglad Basin between South Sudan and Sudan, began in 1996 with the development of the Heglig and Unity fields, which are now the largest in the area.[1] The fields were discovered in 1992 by US company Chevron,[2] and have collectively come to be known as the Greater Nile Oil Project. As of April 2012 the Heglig field was operated by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC),[1] a consortium of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Petronas, ONGC and Sudapet.[3]

The field is connected to an export terminal near Port Sudan, on Sudan's Red Sea coast,[1] by the 1,600 kilometer long Greater Nile pipeline[4] with a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd). According to Reuters, GNPOC said in May 2012 it would go ahead with plans to increase the field's output to 70,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd.[1] The teaching resource Understanding Sudan wrote in 2009 that both the Unity and Heglig fields were in decline, with water ratios of 65 percent.[5]

Dispute over ownership

South Sudan and Sudan have traded claims and counterclaims over the Heglig oil field. The Sudanese government in Khartoum has cited a 2009 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that said Heglig was not part of the disputed Abyei territory; according to Reuters, maps issued by the court appear to put Heglig in the north. Juba, however, has hotly contested Khartoum's claim according to Reuters, often citing an internal boundary marked by British colonial administrators, and the ethnicity of the local population. Many southerners call the area Panthou.[1]

Heglig was the scene of intense fighting in April 2012, when South Sudan seized the field,[6] accusing Khartoum of using it as a base to launch attacks.[7] Sudanese troops recaptured the Heglig oil field later that month after battling South Sudanese forces, whose President Salva Kiir ordered an immediate withdrawal.[8] Key parts of the oil infrastructure in Heglig were destroyed in the fighting, including oil pipelines and the power plant.[6]

Heglig is vital to Sudan's economy because it produces almost half of the country's output of 115,000 bpd.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "FACTBOX-Sudan's Heglig oilfield" Reuters, 19 April 2012.
  2. "Unity Oil Field" OilVoice, Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  3. "IMPLEMENTING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SOUTH SUDAN" Integrity Research and Consultancy, October 2011.
  4. "South Sudan refuses to be held to ransom by the north" The Guardian, 17 May 2012.
  5. "Fact Sheet Two: A History of Oil in the Sudan" Understanding Sudan, 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "UPDATE 2-Sudan says Heglig oilfield repaired, pumping oil" Reuters, 2 May 2012.
  7. "South Sudan 'to withdraw troops' from Heglig oil field" BBC News, 20 April 2012.
  8. "Sudan retakes Heglig oil field as South orders withdrawal" The China Post, 21 April 2012.