Blocks 1, 2, and 4: Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) owns the concession to explore and develop these blocks, the 1,540 kilometer pipeline to the Red Sea, and the port at Masra El Bashair, the last two built and completed by GNPOC in 1999. Its owners are Talisman Energy Inc. of Canada (25 percent, from 1998 until 2002, when it sold its interest to ONGC Videsh Ltd.); China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) (40 percent since 1996), Petronas Nasional Berhad of Malaysia (Petronas) (30 percent since 1996), and Sudan’s state-owned Sudapet Limited (5 percent since 1996).
This concession in Western Upper Nile includes the Unity and Heglig oilfields, the oldest producing oilfields in southern Sudan. It also includes El Toor, Toma South, El Nar, Talih, and Munga oil fields, and the more recently explored Timsa and Bamboo oilfields in Block 4. Civilian displacement started in the mid-1980s.
Block 5A: Lundin Oil AB, a Swedish company, was lead partner in the consortium that owned Block 5A, immediately to the south of Blocks 4 and 1 in Western Upper Nile, until 2003. Lundin (through its subsidiary International Petroleum Corp.) owned 40.375 percent, which it sold to Petronas of Malaysia. Petronas owned 28.5 percent, which it purchased in 1997, and with the purchase of Lundin’s interest owns 68.875 percent of Block 5A. OMV of Austria owned 26.125 percent, which it purchased in 1997, and sold this interest out to ONGC Videsh Ltd. in 2003. Sudapet owns 5 percent of Block 5A, also purchased in 1997. The Block 5A concession is still in the exploratory phase, with very good results from drilling tests. Civilian displacement began in 1998.
Because of a rebel attack at their drilling facility in May 1999, the consortium withdrew, citing “the rainy season” and “logistics” as the reasons for not continuing tests. After major displacement, continuing in 2000, the all-weather road to the drilling site was completed in 2001 and the exploratory tests resumed, were suspended for more than a year in 2002, and resumed again in 2003 shortly before Lundin sold off its interest.
Block 5B: Petronas (41 percent) and Sudapet (10 percent) are the lead partners on this concession, with Lundin Oil (24.5 percent) and OMV (24.5 percent), as announced on May 3, 2001. The concession, on the southeast border of Block 5A, includes Nyal and Ganyliel in Western Upper Nile. The White Nile cuts through it. It appears that OMV agreed to sell its interest in this block to ONGC Videsh Ltd. in 2003.
Blocks 3 & 7 in Eastern Upper Nile are not the subject of this report, but are being developed by the Qatari Gulf Petroleum Company (GPC) with CNPC, Al Hath (private Sudanese company), and Sudapet (5 percent). Fighting in this area has expanded in 2000-2001 between SPDF, SPLA, rebels and government militia and troops.
Block 5: also not covered in this report, the concession, by far the largest in the south at 120,000 square kilometers, is owned by the oil multinational TotalFinaElf, and encompasses Central Upper Nile and beyond. It is not currently being developed.
Block 6: the concession northwest of block 4 in western Sudan is owned by CNPC, but oil explorations have not yet taken place and the block is not covered in this report.
Chevron Oil Co., a U.S.-based multinational oil company that bought and explored concessions in Sudan starting in 1974; it pulled out of the south in 1984 after rebels killed three employees and sold off its Sudan interests in 1992.
Arakis Energy Co., a small Canadian exploration company traded on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, that in 1992 purchased State Oil Co. and its interest in Sudan in blocks 1, 2, and 4, and brought in Chinese, Malaysian, and Sudan government partners in December 1996, forming the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). Talisman Energy purchased Arakis in October 1998.