By Samer Elias,Anbaa Moscow (Moscow News in Arabic), 26 April 2010 The key role of oil behind the scenes of the first multiparty elections to take place in Sudan in 24 years became evident days before the election. President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, accused the Khartoum Government of delaying the demarcation of the border between North and South in order to keep control of oil reserves.
Discoveries of large oil reserves in Sudan have added difficulty to the already contentious issues at stake. The possible Southern secession and a threat of renewed civil war are looming as the political struggle grows between the South and the central government for control of the oil production areas, especially the region of Abyei. Also under contention is the creation of a mechanism for sharing oil revenues with the inhabitants of the South.
Although the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 between Khartoum and the SPLM formally ended the 21-year long civil war, it did not resolve the issue of the region of Abyei. The agreement stipulates that the fate of the region would be determined in a 2011 referendum. Residents will decide whether Abyei will join the North or the South.
With the boycott by the President of the elections held in the Darfur region of western Sudan, questions have been raised about the fate of the oil and gas rich Southern region. Experts point out that at stake is a huge share of Sudan's national wealth, primarily in energy exploration and production rights. Currently some thirty oil companies from East and West are competing for the oil reserves, confirmed at an estimated six billion barrels, placing the region fifth in Africa. Competition has flared due to promising studies of the geological composition of the Sudan, which may be floating on a sea of black gold. In addition, Sudanese oil is of high quality and cheap to extract, with price ranges from $3 to $4 dollars per barrel.