afrol News, 14 September - As massive new deliveries to Chinese-operated oil fields in Western Sudan are being covered up in Norway, workers in the oil supply industry insist that the equipment's destination is the war-ravaged Darfur region, where "new discoveries" had been made. Neither the Sudanese nor the Chinese want to confirm new oil installations in Darfur.
Two Norwegian organisations, Norwatch and the Norwegian Council for Africa, today presented their investigations into a controversial delivery of "land based diesel motors and pumps" worth "tens of million of US$" by the Bergen-based company Rolls-Royce Marine, a daughter of UK's Rolls-Royce, to Sudan. "The equipment probably will be used to connect new oil fields to the gigantic main oil pipeline in Sudan," Erik Hagen of Norwatch says.
According to a source in Sudan, the state-owned Chinese oil company CNPC had ordered the new equipment from Norway. CNPC is the operator of Sudan's huge Block 6, which covers large parts of Western Kordofan and northern and southern Darfur. During the last few months, CNPC has been able to increase the production of Block 6 from 10,000 to 40,000 barrels a day.
A source closely associated to Rolls-Royce told Norwatch that the Chinese state-company recently had made new oil discoveries in Darfur, "information they so far have not wanted to make public." The equipment delivered by Rolls-Royce also seems to be best suited to connect new wells to an existing field.
Press spokesman Arnfinn Ingjerd of Rolls-Royce Marine and Rolls-Royce headquarters in the UK first denied any knowledge of the large shipment to Sudan. After receiving new instructions from England, Mr Ingjerd this week however confirmed to Norwatch that equipment worth "somewhat more than US$ 10 million" was to be sent to Sudan "within a few months."
Mr Ingjerd would not give details on his Sudanese clients, only saying that it was a "global and serious operator." Two anonymous sources connected to Rolls-Royce Marine however confirm that "it is the Chinese", meaning CNPC. One of these sources also maintains that the equipment is to be used within Darfur.
This is denied by Mr Ingjerd. "The delivery goes to the border area between Darfur and Kordofan," he told Mr Hagen. He would however not specify on which side of the regional border the motors and pumps would be used.
Investments in the Sudanese oil sector are highly controversial, as are investments in the war-ravaged Darfur region. The US government on several occasions has gone after companies involved in Sudan's oil sector, claiming they are partly responsible in genocide. Leslie Lefkow of Human Rights Watch advises against investments in the Kordofan-Darfur border area, which she holds is "within the Darfur conflict area".
Darfuri rebels earlier have attacked oil installations on both sides of the regional border with Kordofan. The reason is that Block 6 also taps into oil resources on Darfuri soil, although most installations are within Kordofan. Rebel groups, in agreement with Washington and several human rights groups, also claim that oil revenues are used to finance the Sudanese government's controversial warfare against Darfuri and other rebels.
Also the role of the Chinese in Sudan is widely criticised. Egbert Wesselink of the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) brusquely categorises "the behaviour of the Chinese oil company in Sudan" as "criminal". CNPC acts like an economic and political ally of the Sudanese government, he says, claiming the company takes actively part in the massive human rights violations committed in Sudan.
Some sources claim thousands of Chinese troops are stationed in the country to protect Beijing's growing interests in Sudan. The conflicts in Sudan have by some analysts been described as a mini-war between the US and China over the country's immense oil resources. Booming China is the world's fasting growing oil importing nation and is seeking independence from Washington's control over the world's oil resources.
Contrary to the Washington government, the ECOS does not believe in a boycott of the oils sector in Sudan or oil companies involved there. "This would not have any effect on the situation," Mr Wesselink advised Norwatch. Instead, he urges oil companies to unite and try to influence the Khartoum regime.
Sudan's oil resources nevertheless were widely seen as fuelling the now resolved long-lasting civil war between the North and the South. So far, control over oil resources has played a much smaller part in the Darfur conflict. New knowledge of oil production in this western part of Sudan however may provide Darfuri rebels with new demands of a revenue sharing deal between Khartoum and the province.
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