Total Operations in South Sudan
As of June 2012, Total operated Block B, in Jonglei State near South Sudan's border with Ethiopia, with a 32.5% interest and was responsible in that capacity for exploring and developing the concession.
Total began operations in Sudan in November 1980 though its subsidiary Total E&P Sudan, when it signed an exploration and production sharing agreement for the 118,000 square kilometer Block B southeastern Sudan.
The company suspended exploration activities there in 1985, with the Sudanese government's agreement, due to deteriorating security conditions; but Total retained its contractual rights in Block B through an annually renewed moratorium. In December 2004, Total and its partners in the block, US company Marathon (32.5 percent stake), Kuwait's Kufpec Sudan (25%) and Sudan's state-owned Sudapet (10%), signed a Revised Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (Revised EPSA) with the Sudanese government, to update the 1980 contract and bring it closer in line with international best practice models, especially with regards to corporate social responsibility. Marathon withdrew from the joint venture in March 2008 and Sudan's Nilepet, designated by the Government of Southern Sudan, entered the consortium with a 10% stake under the same terms and conditions as Sudapet.
Total opened a representative office in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in February 2005 and liaison offices in Juba and Bor, both in Southern Sudan, 2006 and 2009, respectively. A team was also assigned to Rumbek in Southern Sudan in 2009.
Reuters reported in February 2012 that Total planned to restart exploration activities on Block B after a 27 year hiatus, citing an emailed statement from the French company. The company launched discussions with South Sudan to re-enter its oil acreage in March 2012, according to New Europe Online. Any oil found in Block B could feed a pipeline the Total may build from South Sudan to Uganda and on to Kenya's coast, Reuters also reported.
Dispute with White Nile
UK oil company White Nile announced in February 2005 that it had been awarded Block Ba, a 67,000 square kilometer area in the Muglad basin that overlapped more than half of the concession held by the Total-led consortium. According to the Total website, the rights claimed by White Nile in this area conflict with the EPSA signed by Total for an initial term of 40 years. Additionally, according to Total, Article 4 of the peace agreements signed between Northern and Southern Sudan states that all oil contracts signed prior to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) would be honored.
The UK High Court ruled in favor of Total in May 2006, the Court of Appeal in London upheld this ruling in January 2007, and the National Petroleum Commission, a joint Northern-Southern Sudan commission established by the peace agreements, confirmed on 17 June 2007 that Total had valid, sole rights to Block B.