Oil in Darfur waiting to be explored: expert
The Darfur region has a great potential for oil exploration, estimated at between five to fifteen billion barrels, as long as the rebel movements take a unified position over the issue of oil, and local communities affected by exploration activities are either preserved or compensated fairly, a petroleum expert said.
Dr Hussein Adam El Haj, expert in the field of petroleum and energy and executive director of the energy commission of the African Union, confirmed in an interview with Radio Dabanga to be broadcasted on Friday, that there are large quantities of oil in various areas in Darfur. Based on his research, he estimates the total oil reserves potential in Darfur at between five billion to 15 billion barrels, with an average of ten billion barrels in all of the five basins in the region.
The petroleum expert said that Darfur is located in the petroleum basins belt of North Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, and the basins of Milot, which it shares with the Abu Jabra regions of Kordofan and South Sudan.
He pointed out that there are six blocks for oil exploration in Darfur now under contract or consideration by investors. “There is a great potential for oil and huge gas reserves in Darfur and Chad, but neither the Sudanese nor the Chadian governments have any idea about their locations or quantities,” El Haj said. “Only the United States, in particular the Chevron corporation, possess the drilling and exploration technology.”
Last month, the North Darfur Governor, Osman Kibir, announced that the Nikheila oil field in the north-eastern part of the state has been linked to the main pipelines in Sudan. The Sudanese Minister of Petrol, Mohamed Awad Makawi, announced last week that the Sufian oil field in East Darfur will start production soon. Oil production at East Darfur’s Zurga Um Hadida will be expanded.
Regarding what should be done after making sure of the abundance of the large quantities of oil in Darfur, Dr Hussein Adam El Haj explained that there are several requirements before they can be explored. “First, it is necessary that the rebel movements in Darfur have a unified position over the issue of oil, which in turn requires a solution to the issue of sharing oil wealth, in a way similar to that of the comprehensive peace agreement with South Sudan.
“Also, before reaching a final peace agreement in Darfur, the terms of wealth sharing, exploration activities, and development in the region, should be negotiated, in order to preserve the rights of local communities in their lands.” Dr El Haj stressed the need for an oil and mineral resources commission to oversee the implementation of this agreement as well as the representation of the inhabitants of Darfur. The local communities which are affected by the oil exploration and drilling should be provided with a fair compensation and decent resettlement, the expert recommended.
Finally, all oil companies should address the environmental risks. “There is a need for accountability, transparency, and good governance in the context of all oil operations in Darfur.”
File photo: An oil refinery built and financed by China, 100 km from the capital of Sudan, Khartoum (Abo.net)
North Darfur’s Nikheila oil field 'ready for production' (20 August 2014)
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