Sudan joins APPA, aims for more transparency

Sudan has joined the African Petroleum Producers Association, a move apparently aimed at heading off complaints by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) over the lack of transparency in the share-out of the country’s oil revenues.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, July 13 -- Sudan has joined the African Petroleum Producers Association, a move apparently aimed at heading off complaints by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) over the lack of transparency in the share-out of the country’s oil revenues.

“The fact that Sudan is now a member-state of [APPA] can, of course, be an opportunity for this country to go further down the road of transparency,” said Francis Perrin, editor of Arab Oil & Gas.

“It's clear that Sudan will be in a position—if it wishes do so—of benefiting from the experiences of countries which are producing and exporting for a much longer time than Sudan,” Perrin told the Nairobi-based Sudan News Service.

Sudan joins 15 current APPA member-states: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (former Zaire), Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Libya, Mauritania, and Nigeria.

Sudan’s decision to join APPA follows an agreement last month by the Sudanese government and SPLM to accept as binding an arbitration ruling due later this month on a boundary dispute over the contested oil-rich Abyei region.

Khartoum and SPLM reached the agreement on Abyei before international talks opened in Washington to bolster the fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between north and south.

Both sides agreed to “accept the Abyei arbitration as final and binding,” Scott Gration, the US special envoy for Sudan, told reporters in a conference call, adding that both sides pledged to ensure the people on the ground also accept it.

Nearly 5 years after the CPA ended what was Africa's longest-running civil war, the boundaries between north and south, and of the oil-rich Abyei area have yet to be finalized.

Oral pleadings in the dispute over Sudan's oil-rich Abyei region began on Apr. 22 before a specially created tribunal sitting at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The ruling on the Abyei demarcation is due July 18-22.

Khartoum and SPLM agreed the tribunal should settle a disagreement over the findings of the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) set up under the January 2005 CPA.

The tribunal is mandated to deliver, within 90 days, a final and binding judgment on Khartoum's claim that the ABC exceeded its own mandate in its ruling on the boundaries of Abyei, which it delivered in July 2005.

"Everybody in Sudan has a vested interest in the outcome of this arbitration," Riek Machar Teny, SPLM deputy chairman told the court on the first of 6 days of hearings.

Meanwhile, according to a July 7 report in the Khartoum-based Sudan Tribune, the country’s oil revenue decreased by 7% from April despite improvement in crude prices worldwide over the last month.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance and National Economy Al-Tayib Mustafa was quoted by Sudanese state media as saying that total oil revenue for May was $147.83 million compared to $158.76 in April.

Mustafa said the share of the government of Southern Sudan in oil revenues increased in May to $63.43 million from $51.60 million in April saying it was the highest revenue figure for the semiautonomous government this year.

Mustafa further stated that the shares of the oil producing states of Unity, the Upper Nile, and South Kordofan stood at $1 million, $3.6 million, and $6.4 million respectively, while the share of the disputed Abyei area came in at $664,000.

In April, however, reports emerged that the southern region was in serious financial crisis due to several factors, including the fall in world oil prices and the failure of the national government to pay Southern Sudan its share of oil revenues.

At the time, southern ministers resolved to conduct “significant engagement” with the Khartoum government to ensure that it repaid existing arrears of southern oil revenues since 2008 and not accumulate new ones in 2009.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in Government