Sudan Wants India To Combat Oil Politics

New Delhi, July 24: | Updated: Jul 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
Sudan believes it is sitting on one of the biggest oil reserves in the world. The north African state has little doubt that its oil resources are being subjected to politicisation by human rights groups. An oil exporter since 1999, Sudan feels the decision by the Canadian oil major Talisman to pull out from its Greater Nile oil project is now an important opportunity for India to combat “the global politicisation of oil”.

Giving in to intense pressure from human rights groups, Talisman’s stake (25 per cent) is up for sale. Malaysia’s Petrolian Nasional Berhad has 30 per cent in the project. China National Petroleum has 40 per cent and Sudan’s Sudapest has the remaining 5 per cent.

Speaking to FE Khartoum’s envoy to New Delhi Abdal Mahmood Abdalhallem Mohammad said he is waiting to see the “home coming” of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (through its external arm ONGC Videsh) in place of Talisman. “Few people remember that ONGC was invited to be part of the original consortium. Ask them, they’ll tell you! The moment I landed in India, they were the first office I visited. It is time ONGC had a homecoming! I tell them ‘come sooner than later’. They’ll waste no money in exploring. Sudan is sitting on a lake of oil: it is like a well full of fresh water, which is growing everyday! It would be in the interest of South-South cooperation and India’s own oil security.”

The ruinous 19-year old civil war with Christian groups in the south Sudan notwithstanding, Mr Mohammad argued that jointly India, China and Malaysia have a great role in “combating the politicisation of oil”. On the accusation that Khartoum uses its $400-500 million income from oil to finance its army, the envoy said “the motives of human rights groups are well known and India is itself a sufferer from their propaganda. They shed crocodile tears over nothing. These very groups were the backbone of apartheid.”

Swedish firm Lundin Petroleum had also been in talks with Talisman for buying out its stake. But the deal wilted under pressure from activists.