Sudanese oil revenues, tensions increase

Sudan saw increased revenues from oil exports in June, benefiting from world market increases, but the country’s future prosperity may be in peril due to continued disagreement over the long-disputed Abyei region.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 -- Sudan saw increased revenues from oil exports in June, benefiting from world market increases, but the country’s future prosperity may be in peril due to continued disagreement over the long-disputed Abyei region.

The country’s total oil revenue for the month of June stood at $168.19 million, a 14% rise over the $147.83 million earned in May, according to Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance and National Economy Al-Tayib Mustafa Abu-Gnaya.

Of the total, Abu-Gnaya said the share of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in the export revenues increased 11% in June to $70 million from $63 million in May, while its share of domestic sales rose by 25% to $34.96 million in June from $28 million in May.

Abu-Gnaya said the shares of the oil-producing states of Unity, the Upper Nile, and Southern Kurdufan were $1.20 million, $1.15 million, and $998,000 respectively, while the share of Abyei was $1.66 million.

However, as a result of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Khartoum government said effective July 22 GoSS will not be entitled to any further share of revenues except 2% from Southern Kurdufan.

Earlier this month, the PCA redefined the boundaries of Abyei, awarding the northern government control over the area's key Heglig and Bamboo oilfields placing them in the north Sudan district of Southern Kurdufan.

As a result, the Khartoum government announced that the GoSS will not be entitled to receive any share from the oil exports from the Heglig and Bamboo fields effective July 22.

The GoSS is considered likely to protest the withholding of oil revenues from Abyei under terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that stipulates it is to receive 50% of net oil revenue derived from the Heglig and Bamboo fields.

In fact, the GoSS already has issued a new argument to support its claim on the Heglig oilfield, saying it belongs to the southern Unity State region and threatening to appeal the matter as a separate case at The Hague.

Meanwhile, in the first concrete sign of dissent over the PCA’s judgment,
thousands of Arab nomads protested against the court ruling, saying it robs them of pasture lands for their flocks.

Leaders of the Misseriya tribe said as many as 3,000 nomads packed the remote central Sudan town of el-Muglad, where they accused the Khartoum government of accepting the loss of their pastures in exchange for access to oil fields.

According to analysts, such signs of Misseriya opposition will be seen as a disturbing development for the Khartoum government, which has traditionally relied on the tribe’s support in the country's oil-producing regions.

Not least, analysts have warned that any escalating dispute over Abyei could draw Sudan back into civil war, an outcome that would have a disastrous impact on the country and its oil industry as well as the wider region.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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