Oil companies in Sudan should be excluded from US capital markets

Published March 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

US lawmakers on Wednesday, accusing oil companies of indirectly supporting the war in Sudan, said the oil firms operating in that African country should be banned from borrowing money on US capital markets. 

 

"Given the connection between oil development and the Sudan government's prosecution of the war, we recommend that foreign companies engaged in the development of Sudan's oil and gas fields be prohibited from raising money in US capital markets," said congressman Donald Payne. 

 

Payne's call, made at a congressional hearing, came a week after Sudanese opposition similarly appealed to foreign oil companies to freeze their activities in Sudan, saying the Islamist government in Khartoum was using the revenues to finance its war in the south. 

 

The British-based charity Christian Aid earlier this month also called on oil companies to suspend operations in Sudan because of atrocities it blamed on the Sudanese government and "sponsored militias". 

 

The charity said that tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in a policy to drive them from oil fields in Sudan. 

 

A growing number of foreign firms have become involved in developing Sudan's oil fields despite a raging 18-year civil war between successive Islamist governments in Khartoum and the mainly Animist and Christian south. 

 

With reserves estimated at more than one billion barrels and current production at 200,000 barrels per day, Sudan became an oil exporter in September 1999. 

 

Crude output is expected to rise to 400,000 barrels a day, according to estimates from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. 

 

An increasing number of oil companies are involved in oil prospection and production in Sudan. They include CNPC of China, Petronas of Malaysia, Talisman of Canada, Gulf Oil of Qatar, OMV of Austria, and Lundin of Sweden. 

 

British Petroleum holds shares in PetroChina, whose mother company is CNPC, and the French firm Total has a broad concession in Sudan where it cannot prospect because of the fighting. 

 

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney told the hearing that airstrips and roads being built by oil companies were being used to attack civilians in the brutal war. 

 

"People are being bombed and strafed with the knowledge and complicity of Talisman energy," she accused. 

 

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has undertaken a review toward US policy on Sudan and is being urged by lawmakers to appoint a special envoy to deal with the country and its Islamic government, said last week he continued to assess the situation there. 

 

But McKinney took President George W. Bush's administration to task for its apparent lack of decisions. "Does Africa even exist in the Bush administration?" she asked.—AFP. 

©--Agence France Presse 2001. 

 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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