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South sudanese agree for oil drilling { March 24 2005 }

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We fought for this land and White Nile can drill here, say Sudanese

Neil Hume in Nairobi
Thursday March 24, 2005
The Guardian

South Sudan's provisional government said yesterday it would stand by the controversial oil exploration deal it has struck with a British company fronted by ex-England cricketer Phil Edmonds.
Shares in the tiny British oil company have soared since it announced a deal in war-torn Sudan. But a consortium fronted by French group Total has claimed that it has rights over the area.

Costello Garang Ring Lual, a member of the national executive committee of Sudan's People's Liberation Movement and south Sudan's international development commissioner, told the Guardian: "It is not possible for Total to come back.

"We have controlled this area for the last 20 years, we have fought for it. For someone to think they can come in and take it is just wrong. The government in the north [Khartoum] knows we are right. The agreement is very clear."
Total claims a production-sharing contract struck in 1980 and re-signed in December, is still valid. The deal covers a huge area of south Sudan, including Block Ba - 67,500 sq km of land that some observers believe could contain 5bn barrels of oil.

Mr Garang's comments come as Mr Edmonds puts the finishing touches to a deal that will see the SPLM sell 60% of Block Ba in return for a 50% holding in his company, White Nile. The deal is expected to be announced next week, at which point White Nile shares will start trading again.

They were suspended just over a month ago after they had risen 13-fold in less than a week, a performance that revived memories of the dotcom boom.

At the suspension price of 137p a share, White Nile was valued at 190m despite the fact that its only tangible asset was the 9m of cash it raised in a private placing at 10p.

Mr Garang also sought to clarify recent reports that the oil ministry in Khartoum has control over oil deals in the south.

He said that Block Ba belonged to the people of the south and that the peace agreement, which brought to an end 21 years of civil war, specified that all contracts signed before January 9 would be honoured. White Nile's agreement with the SPLM pre-dates Total's renewed claim on Block Ba by several months.

He also pointed out that Sudan's new petroleum commission, which will have to approve the White Nile transaction once it is up and running, will include both government and SPLM members.

Asked why the SPLM had teamed up with a former test cricketer rather than a multi-national oil company to develop the oilfield, he said that the deal would help the new regional government pay for several big infrastructure projects, including railway lines to Kenya and Uganda and a telecoms network.

"Through this deal south Sudan can benefit before oil production begins," he said.

America normalizes relations with sudan { April 29 2005 }
Arab sudanese militiamen use rape as weapon of ethnic cleansing { June 30 2004 }
Darfur militia gets orders from western command center { March 2 2005 }
Demonstrators chant welcome to USA { May 8 2006 }
Evidence of US destabilisation of sudan
Former rebels seek to develop south sudans oil resources { April 20 2005 }
Humanitarian crisis in sudan imminent
Pariah sudan has close american relations { April 29 2005 }
South sudanese agree for oil drilling { March 24 2005 }
Sudan crisis allows western theft of oil and gold { August 12 2004 }
Sudan militia leader links regime to crisis { March 3 2005 }
Sudanese arabs rape blacks to make light babies { June 30 2004 }
Sudanese government arming protecting militias { July 20 2004 }

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