The Canadian oil firm Talisman Energy will stay put in Sudan, President Jim Buckee said in remarks published Monday, June 4, despite charges at home it was helping fuel the civil war. Buckee, who on Sunday wound up a three-day visit to Sudan, was quoted by Al Rai Al Aam and Khartoum Monitor dailies as saying his company intends to remain operating in Sudan.
Buckee, who is also chief executive officer of the Calgary-based firm, was quoted as saying that Talisman could do more to improve the situation of human rights in Sudan by staying than pulling out. Buckee said Sudanese Finance Minister Abdel Rahim Hamdi had told him that 50 percent of the oil proceeds are used for repaying Sudan's foreign debts and the remainder pays salaries of government employees and development projects.
He denied an accusation that the government uses an airstrip in Unity State for launching raids on the rebel movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). "It is we who use the airstrip," Buckee said, adding it was legitimate for the armed forces to use the airport to safeguard the region from attack.
He refuted an accusation of a large-scale forced migration of inhabitants from the oil areas by citing a survey commissioned by his firm that showed "most of the areas were not populated."
Instead, oil activities have led to the rapid growth of such small towns like Bentieu and Paryang in the region, Buckee said. He added that his firm had carried out several water, health, educational and vocational training projects in areas of oil operations and is presently planning for construction of a hospital in Bentieu, capital of the Unity State.
The Talisman chief executive said his company was bent on increasing the rates of production in the oilfields where it is operating but was not planning, at present, to raise its investment.
However, he said the company would raise up to $15 billion its investment in Sudan when peace is reached.
Buckee described as "emotional" recent demonstrations in Canada protesting against his company's activities in Sudan, arguing that oil projects in Sudan "will continue in Sudan, with or without Talisman." — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)