Aletho News


Sudan says Juba owes over $1 billion, says Heglig oil production to be boosted

Sudan Tribune | May 8, 2012

KHARTOUM – The Sudanese oil Minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz today reiterated accusations that South Sudan deliberately planned to sabotage his country’s oil infrastructure to hurt its economy.

In a briefing to Sudanese national assembly, al-Jaz said that technical teams are still in the oil-rich town of Heglig assessing damage to oil facilities created by the brief occupation of South Sudan army (SPLA) last month.

He refused to give an estimate of the damages saying that his ministry is keen on providing “accurate and factual” information to lawmakers and prevent confusion among investors.

Nonetheless the oil minister gave some details of the physical damage which he said included fully blowing up the main electricity station, which produced 17 megawatts, by placing explosive devices between each machine and detonating it from a distance.

Al-Jaz also claimed that South Sudan ignited a fire in the main pipeline, destroyed tanks of crude which led to the flow of oil from the main processing center and bombed the main warehouse containing spare parts for machinery and installations.

The work was all done by foreign experts, al-Jaz said, brought by South Sudan government. He said that all the looting and sabotaging has been well documented and will be used in international legal proceedings against Juba.

A South Sudanese official had claimed that Sudan aerial bombardment created a large part of the damage in Heglig oil facilities.

Al-Jaz also informed the parliament that the capacity of Heglig oil field will increase to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its optimal current levels of 55,000.

“We assure you the oil ministry is moving along in its programme for this year, to upgrade production and increase it from blocks 2 and 4, which represent the Heglig area, to a ceiling of 80,000 bpd of crude,” he said.

The government said last week it had begun pumping oil again after partial repairs to the Heglig facility, but it did not say how much oil was flowing or when full production could resume.

In a related issue, the oil minister alleged that South Sudan owes $1 billion for usage of the oil pipelines last year but did not elaborate.

Effective earlier this year, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production to stop Khartoum from seizing part of it to make up for what it calls unpaid fees for transit and use of its facilities. The two sides could not agree on what a fair charge should be for the service.

Khartoum wanted the South to pay $36 per barrel but Juba dismissed the figure and offered around $1.

The landlocked south can only export its crude through Sudan to a Red Sea terminal at port Sudan.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan says UNSC resolution contains positive elements

Sudan Tribune | May 2, 2012

WASHINGTON – The Sudanese government reacted with caution to the resolution adopted unanimously today by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) saying it contains positive elements but vowed to review it carefully in order to determine its negotiating strategy with South Sudan.

Today’s decision directs Khartoum and Juba to inform the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and UNSC president in writing of their intention to commit to a cessation of hostilities including aerial bombardments within 48 hours.

The two sides must immediately withdraw their forces inside their respective borders without conditions and within a week activate the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) and the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

Also, withdrawal from the disputed border region of Abyei must be completed in two weeks in accordance with the June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Security and Administrative Arrangements for Abyei.

Furthermore, the two countries will return to the negotiating table in two weeks time to settle issues including oil, citizenship, border demarcation and Abyei. A four-month window was given to conclude the talks.

Talks on these contentious items is mediated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by Thabo Mbeki but there was little success in achieving any breakthrough.

The panel managed to schedule a meeting between Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir for April 3rd to seal framework agreements on borders and citizenship. However, clashes that erupted between the two countries in late March over the oil-rich region of Heglig inside South Kordofan led to the suspension of the summit.

Relations deeply deteriorated in early April after South Sudan army (SPLA) managed to occupy Heglig for 10 days before Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) reclaimed the area. Juba insists that it withdrew voluntarily and dismissed Khartoum assertions that they were expelled by force.

South Sudan claimed that Heglig is part of Unity state that was annexed to north Sudan several decades ago through an administrative decision. Heglig, which produces half of Sudan’s oil, saw its facilities severely damaged which Khartoum blamed on SPLA and vowed to sue it internationally.

The UNSC resolution passed today called for a fact finding effort to assess the losses including economic and humanitarian damage to oil facilities and other key infrastructure in and around Heglig.

Despite reservations expressed by China and Russia, the resolution maintained the threat of non-military measures against any side that fails to comply with council’s demands that were in essence part of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) roadmap endorsed last month.

“We are always very cautious about the use and threat of sanctions,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong told the council.

“China has all along maintained that African issues should be settled by the Africans in African ways” Baodong added.

The Russian envoy expressed the same sentiment.

“The arsenal of political and diplomatic instruments for normalizing the situation has nowhere been exhausted,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council.

“We consider sanctions as an extreme measure” he said

In Beijing, the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised China for backing the resolution.

“I’m pleased that China and the United States joined with a unified international community just hours ago to support a strong UN Security [Council] resolution that provides unambiguous support to the African Union roadmap,” Clinton said.

The Sudanese government criticized the AUPSC for requesting the blessings of the UNSC and warned against the attempt to override the African role by involving the UNSC. It said that the intervention by the world body will make political considerations and pre-established positions prevail over the requirements of peaceful settlements.

Last Sunday, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti sent a letter to the AU declaring his country’s “preliminary” agreement with the roadmap while expressing several reservations that were not specified.

Karti traveled to Moscow this week to press Russia on Sudan’s point of view regarding the draft resolution. However, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov signaled his backing to the resolution despite expressing discomfort with including Article 41 of the UN charter.

Article 41 states that the UNSC may decide what measures – not involving the use of armed force – are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call on the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures.

These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Al-Obeid Marwih said that elements of the UNSC resolution related to condemning Heglig occupation and calling for assessing damage to oil facilities are positive.

Marwih noted that Sudan has no “fundamental objection” on the resolution as long as it is made on the basis of the AUPSC roadmap.

But the head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) parliamentary bloc Ghazi Salah al-Deen slammed the AUPSC communiqué saying that it equated between the victim and the villain.

“We cannot endorse any international decision denying the right of the Sudanese people,” Al-Deen told the legislative assembly.

Al-Deen, who also serves as Bashir’s adviser, said the labeling of Heglig as a disputed area is “malicious”.

Sudan’s ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Osman expressed disappointment with the resolution.

“It is notable that the resolution has disregarded the continuous aggression by South Sudan against Sudan,” Osman told the council.

“Peace … will only be achieved through halting all forms of support and sheltering of proxy rebel and armed groups espoused by the South Sudan,” he added.

But South Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor Kuol who attended the vote told the council that his government would comply with the resolution.

“It is my privilege to reaffirm to you that, in compliance with the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement, and in the spirit of our commitment to peace, my government ordered the withdrawal of our police force from Abyei Area on 28 April 2012. We expect the international community to exert efforts to ensure the immediate and complete withdrawal of Sudan Armed Forces from Abyei Area,” Alor told the council.

As acknowledged formally by the African Union, my government is already committed to the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High Implementation Panel. We welcome the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and the commitment of the UN Security Council to the enhancement of the AUHIP led negotiations process through the active participation of the UN, the Chairman of IGAD and other international partners.”

“We appeal to the United Nations and its member states to urgently mobilize humanitarian assistance for the population affected by Sudan’s continuous aerial bombardment and ground incursions in northern states of South Sudan,” he said.

Alor told reporters that his country did not abandon claims to Heglig and stressed that the move on the region was in response to Khartoum’s aerial bombardments and ground incursions. He said the ownership of Heglig would be on the negotiating table.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice hailed the vote saying that it enforces a time frame to achieve results after years of talks.

“With this vote, the Council has clearly imposed tight deadlines for concrete action, in line with the African Union decision. This Council, especially those members with particular influence, including my own, must continue to press both parties to implement the African Union Roadmap by ending hostilities, ceasing cross-border attacks and movements, halting aerial bombardments, withdrawing all their forces from the border areas including Abyei, activating the necessary border security mechanisms, and ending support to rebel groups working against the other state,” she said.

“It is also essential that both parties return at once to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to reach agreement on critical outstanding issues. We support the plans of the African Union to travel to Khartoum and Juba in the coming days to begin the process. This is ultimately the only way that further conflict can be avoided” Rice added.

She warned that the UNSC is willing to impose punitive measures if there is lack of progress.

“If the parties fail to take these steps promptly, this Council is united in its determination to hold both sides accountable. We stand ready to impose Chapter VII sanctions on either or both parties, as necessary,” the U.S. diplomat said.

But the Russian ambassador said that sanctions should not be used in relation to conflicts in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where fighting has been raging since last year between Sudan’s army and rebels from Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) who want to topple to Khartoum government.

The resolution orders Khartoum and SPLM-N to cooperate with the mediation and use a June 2011 framework agreement as a basis for talks. The deal was signed by presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie only to be scrapped by Bashir himself later.

May 3, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Sudan Withdraws from Heglig, Damages Revealed

Al-Manar | April 22, 2012

South Sudan’s army has completed its withdrawal from Sudan’s main Heglig oil field, the military said Sunday, but condemned the north for bombing the area.

Juba seized the flashpoint oil hub on April 10, claiming that Khartoum was using Heglig as a base to attack the South’s oil-producing Unity State.

Although South Sudan disputes it, Heglig is internationally regarded as part of Sudan.

The South’s Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) “completed its withdrawal from Heglig yesterday,” the South’s military spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP.

However, Sudan’s presidential assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie, has accused South Sudan’s government of deceiving its people by saying that its army withdrew from Heglig, Sudan Tribune reported.

Addressing a mobilization rally of Sufi groups in the capital Khartoum on Saturday, Nafie claimed that Juba had in fact pleaded with international mediators to stop Khartoum from shelling SPLA troops inside Heglig.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon branded Juba’s 10-day occupation of the region illegal and US President Barack Obama has said the long-time rivals must negotiate to avoid further military escalation along their contested and volatile border.

For his part, The Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha ruled out quick return to negotiations with S. Sudan, suggesting that negotiations with the South are pointless.

In an interview with Blue Nile TV, Taha also accused Juba of launching economic war on Sudan when SPLA damaged the operating system software of Heglig oil facilities and set the main controls of the plants on fire. The details and scope of the destruction will be revealed in the coming hours, he added.

Sudan state TV aired footage from inside Heglig showing major destruction in the town while oil facilities were still burning and efforts were made to put out the fires.

The Washington-based Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said in a statement today that new satellite imagery revealed that a key part of the pipeline infrastructure was destroyed.

“The damage appears to be so severe, and in such a critical part of the oil infrastructure, that it would likely stop oil flow in the area,” SSP’s statement read.

The Heglig violence was the worst since South Sudan won independence in July after a 1983-2005 civil war in which about two million people died.

Tensions have gradually mounted over the disputed border and other unresolved issues.

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘West waging economic war against Sudan’

Sudan Tribune | April 17, 2012

KHARTOUM – A senior Sudanese official has accused Western countries of waging an economic war against his country and aiding neighbouring South Sudan in its alleged support of Sudanese rebels.

Nafie Ali Nafie, a Sudanese presidential assistant, said while addressing a rally in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday that the West is aware that “the rebels and mercenaries” had destroyed oil facilities in the Heglig area which was captured by South Sudan’s army last week.

“They [Western countries] believe this could weaken the Sudanese economy” he said before adding that the government knows how to run the battle and organise its priorities.

Heglig, which produces half of Sudan’s daily oil production of 115,000 barrels a day, was occupied by South Sudan’s army last week in the most dangerous escalation of military confrontations between the two neighbours since the south gained independence last year.

In his speech, Nafie said that Sudan must talk to its friends in the international arena in order to prevent Western countries from supporting Sudanese rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) via the UN.

His statement appears to be related to international efforts spearheaded by the US to allow aid groups to the country’s border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where Sudan’s army has been fighting SPLM-N rebels since last year.

Nafie went on to dismiss concerns that his government would use the war over Heglig as a pretext to increase repression of dissent but he put a caveat saying that Khartoum will not tolerate “traitors”

“There will be no curtailment of public liberties but traitors are entitled to no freedom” he declared.

Nafie further accused the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), a rebel coalition including the SPLM-N, of occupying Heglig and then handing it over to the “enemy”, meaning South Sudan.

He described SRF’s supporters as “agents and traitors” and reiterated Khartoum’s commitment not to negotiate with South Sudan’s government.

He further sought to allay concerns that the government would terminate fuel subsidies against the background of losing Heglig’s oil, saying that such actions would only occur within calculated measures.

Sudan admitted this week that the loss of Heglig’s oil will affect government income but government officials said that plans have already been initiated to assimilate the deficit.


Sudan’s projected economic contraction in 2012 worse than expected

Sudan Tribune | April 17, 2012

WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday revised down its forecast to Sudan’s economy to show a significant shrinkage in 2012.

According to the latest release of the World Economic Outlook (WEO), the East African nation achieved a -3.9% growth in 2011. The figure includes South Sudan only up until July 2011 when the country officially broke into two.

In 2012, Sudan’s economy will contract by -7.3% before improving in 2013 to -1.5% and to 1.7% in 2017.

The loss of oil-rich South Sudan last year meant that Sudan no longer has access to billions of dollars worth of crude reserves. Oil was the main source of foreign currency and revenues for Sudan prior to the country’s partition.

To make matters worse, South Sudan managed last week to take over one of Sudan’s major oilfields of Heglig in South Kordofan through a military occupation that took everyone by surprise. Analysts say that damages to the facilities in the area, which produces half Sudan’s oil, as a result of military operations means that production will not resume anytime soon.

Furthermore, landlocked South Sudan shut down its own roughly 350,000 barrels per day in January in a row over how much it should pay to export crude via Sudan. The latter has built in oil transit fees as part of its budget at the rate of $36 per barrel.

Khartoum has undertaken measures since last year in anticipation of the sharp curtailment in revenues. This includes cutting government spending, partially lifting subsidies and banning a wide range of imports to stop depletion of foreign currency reserves.

But nonetheless, food prices soared to unbearable levels for many citizens prompting limited demonstrations in the Sudanese capital last year. The exchange rate of the Sudanese pound also deteriorated to unprecedented levels amid sharp shortage in hard currency which further fueled price hikes.

The IMF projected consumer prices in Sudan to increase by 23.2% in 2012 and 26.0% in 2013, which is the highest in the Middle East region.

Sudan has turned to a number of friendly nations seeking help to shore up its budget deficits and boost its foreign currency reserves directly or through investments. So far only the Arab Gulf state of Qatar made a $2 billion pledge to assist in the form of buying Sudan government bonds and investments in several economic sectors.

Sudanese officials assert that their country will overcome the loss of oil revenue by exporting more gold and revamping the agricultural sector.

However, this week the Sudanese finance and national economy minister Ali Mahmood Abdel-Rasool said that the 2012 budget as it stands is unsustainable and needs to be amended.

The pro-government al-Rayaam newspaper reported that the Sudanese parliament is poised to approve a second round of lifting subsidies on fuel amid strong objections from the labour union.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Sudan playing into the hands of foreign states: Bashir

Press TV – April 12, 2012

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has accused South Sudan of playing into the hands of foreigners by “choosing the path of war” as border tensions between the two neighbors keep escalating.

“Our brothers in South Sudan have chosen the path of war, implementing plans dictated by foreign parties who supported them during the civil war,” Bashir said on Thursday, referring to the country’s internal conflicts before South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July, 2011.

“War is not the interest of either South Sudan or Sudan but, unfortunately, our brothers in the South are thinking neither of the interests of Sudan or of South Sudan,” Bashir said.

The comments follow three days of heavy fighting between the two sides, in what some fear might lead to an all-out war.

Earlier on Thursday, Sudanese warplanes attacked a strategic bridge near the South Sudanese town of Bentiu.

On Tuesday, South Sudan seized the oil-producing border town of Heglig.

The take-over prompted Sudan to pull out of crisis talks led by the African Union. The talks aimed at resolving the protracted dispute with Juba over oil, border demarcation, contested areas and citizenship issues.

On Wednesday, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir threatened to seize the disputed oil region of Abyei on the border with Sudan if the United Nations failed to pressure Sudanese forces out of the area.

The African Union has expressed deep concern over the escalating security situation on the contested border, calling for a troop pullout from border zones and the resolution of the problem through peaceful means.

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment