Security and the Extractive Industries of South Sudan

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Security has long been a leading concern of international oil companies operating in Sudan and South Sudan. The main security issues as of mid-2012 involved the instability of the border between the two countries.[1] A 2010 report by Concordis International said that "the presence of divergent interests, marginalisation, complex alliances, a militarised culture and the availability of arms" have created a volatile security situation, especially among border communities.[2]

Security issues for IOCs

Chevron, the US company which discovered the highly productive Heglig and Unity oil fields in 1982, suspended its operations in Sudan when civil war broke out in 1983. Chevron stopped its operations again in 1984, when three of its workers were killed by forces allied to the Southern Sudanese movement called Anyanya II. After the killing, Chevron demanded an "Oilfield Protection Force" in addition to normal military forces, but in 1988, unhappy with security considerations, Chevron dismantled its operations in Bentiu and Unity provinces.[3]

French company Total suspended its exploration activities in Block B in southern Sudan in 1985, due to escalating insecurity in the region related to the civil war.[4] Block 5B, operated by Sweden's Lundin Petroleum, was also the site of violent conflict when the Sudanese government displaced thousands of locals to clear land for Lundin’s oil activities.[5]

Disputed border areas

The Concordis report summarized some of the outstanding border contestations in oil-rich areas between South Sudan and Sudan:[2]


A 2009 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), based in The Hague, on Abyei area boundaries placed majority of oil outside the area but national dispute over implementation of the ruling still threaten to derail the CPA. Misseriya groups reject the ruling and are increasingly militarised. Dinka Ngok accept the ruling and reject participation of Misseriya in the Abyei Referendum.

Southern Kordofan-Unity ‘Triangle’

National contestation over Kharasana and the Heglig/Bamboo oil fields (placed outside the disputed Abyei Area by a PCA ruling). Pariang County claims the wider area was administered in South Sudan in 1/1/56. Heavy militarisation as of 2010, with ongoing clashes between nomads and SPLA. Southern Kordofan is, according to Concordis International, potentially the most problematic disputed area.

South Darfur-Western Bahr al Ghazal

The large mineral rich Kafia Kinji area is locally and nationally contested. Diverse but sparsely populated, it was transferred to Darfur in 1960 and was as of 2010 administered by Al Rodom Locality. Sudan's Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and South Sudan's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) both present. As of 2010, recent clashes had been between SPLA and Rezeigat.

Megenis Mountains

Dispute between the South Sudanese state of Upper Nile and the Sudanese state of South Kordofan over part of reportedly mineral/oil rich mountains. Local disputes over settling of nomads and associated local resource exploitation.


Strategically important for its access to the Nile and to oil producing areas. Transferred to Nuba Province, in present-day Sudan, in the 1920s but returned to the South Sudanese state of Upper Nile in 1928. The area has been a low level dispute between the parties due to the presence of the SAF. The area is locally contested between Shilluk and nomads who have traditionally used it for seasonal cultivation.[2]


  1. "Sudan and South Sudan’s Oil Industries: Growing Political Tensions" Civil-Military Fusion , May 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "More Than A Line: Sudan's North-South Border" Concordis International, September 2010.
  3. "Fact Sheet Two: A History of Oil in the Sudan" Understanding Sudan , 2009.
  4. "Project Description" Total website, Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  5. "The Legacy of Lundin, Petronas and OMV in Block 5A, Sudan 1997 - 2003, ECOS, June 2010.