Date: Mon, 15 Jun 98 23:37:17 CDT
From: Mid-EasT RealitieS <MeR@middleeast.org>
Subject: A New Sudan Ahead
On one side of the Red Sea is modern Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world and a country whose financial and political influence has proved extraordinary in the past few decades.
On the other side of the Sea is Sudan, the largest country in Africa, and one of the poorest countries in the world.
I’ve been to both countries and the contrast could not be more shocking. Glittering palaces and tremendous ostentatiously-displayed wealth on the Saudi side, extreme poverty and backwardness on the Sudanese side. Indeed, when I was in Khartoum in the mid-1980s I was told by the American Ambassador that there were less than 1000 miles of paved highways in the entire country!
The Saudis bristle at the mention of such a comparison, but the historical reality is that had it not been for oil, the black gold of this century, the differences that today exist on the two sides of the Red Sea would be minimal with the Saudi peninsula more resembling Sudan.
Is a major change about to take place in Sudan at the turn of the millenium as a result of oil? Indeed this may be about to begin; with unforseen ramifications for the entire region.
With both Iran and Sudan oil exporters the consequences for the development and the politics of the region could become more profound. And this may partially explain the growing Saudi dilemma—how to prevent furher internal revolutionary developments in an era of decreasing resources and at a time of growing disgust for both the policies and lifestyles of the al-Saud regime. MER will be having considerably more to say about these basic issues in the months ahead.
The following short article about what is happening with oil in Sudan should be considered for both its potential economic and political consequences.
Sudan’s chronic and severe economic problems and hardship, especially due to U.S. led sanctions, may soon be drawing to a close as the Islamist governed country is preparing to exploit it’s large oil reserves by the summer of 1999.
Sudanese President Umar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir , officially
inaugurated on May 26, 1998 work on the 1610 km long oil pipeline
which shall connect the oilfields in Hejleij in Western Sudan with the
export terminal on the Red Sea. This pipeline, which is the longest
in Africa, will cost around 600 million US Dollars and is being
constructed by 2 companies, one the Chinese CPTDC (1110 kilometres)
and a the other German (500 kilometres). In addition a new export
terminal will be constructed on the Red Sea, south of Sudan’s
main port PortSudan. The new port has been given the name of
Bashair: Arabic for
good tidings which shall be carried
out by an Argentinian company.
Work has also started on a new oil refinery north of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, with a cost of 638,660,000 US Dollars. It should enter service by the end of 1999, refining 50,000 barrels per day (bpd): in addition to El-Ubaid refinery (opened in 1996) refining 10,000 bpd thus covering local consumption, with the rest crude oil going for export. Sudan’s current consumption of petroleum is around 65,000 bpd, wheras the pieline’s initial flow will be at 150,000 bpd, more than enough to achieve self-sufficiency. Daily production is expected to rise by the year 2000 to 250,000 bpd.
This whole project, described as the largest single deal in African history, is undertaken by the Greater Nile Oil Consortium which is comprised of the Malaysian Petronas, Chinese CPTDC, Russian National Oil Company and the Sudanese Sudapet company.
Popular response in Khartoum: Alhamdulilah, we got Sharia’ first then the petroleum!