Talisman holds firm against rebel threats to Sudanese oil operations

Published June 20th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Canadian oil company Talisman Energy on Monday, June 18, said it will not bend to threats against its operations in Sudan by rebel leader John Garang.  


"If you go back four years, you'll find the identical interview," spokesman David Mann said, reacting to reports in the Middle East that Garang would one day seize oil fields owned by foreign oil firms. 


"The safety of our workers is paramount. We're aware of these threats but ultimately Talisman thinks oil development is a good thing for Sudan and the peace process," he added. 


Talisman has a 25 percent stake in the Sudan-based Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company with Chinese, Malaysian and Sudanese partners, and already has tightened security at operations there. 


Talisman, based in Calgary, is also under pressure from the United States to dispose of its share in the Sudanese oil development firm. US legislation, which passed the US House of Representatives last week, would limit access to US investment for companies doing business in Sudan. 


"It sets a worrisome precedent for legislative interference in capital markets," said Talisman president Jim Buckee of the US bill, during an oil conference here Monday. 


Oil industry analyst Brian Prokop says it may just be the right time for Talisman to cash in on offers to sell the company. 


"You hope Garang doesn't walk the walk, that it is just more talk, but ultimately maybe something does occur that gets Talisman to reconsider its position," said Prokop, who works for consultancy firm Peters and Company. 


Sudan operations account for about 10 percent of Talisman's net worth and Prokop says the company has to decide if it's worth the management and public relations effort to keep the ship afloat. 


While Talisman is putting a lot of effort into doing the right thing in Sudan, shareholders interests would guide the course the company takes, Mann said. 


"All of our assets are potentially for sale," Mann said, indicating a slight shift in the company's stance that it has no plans to get out of Sudan. 


Conflict has raged almost non-stop for 45 years in Sudan since its independence from Britain. 

Military strongmen have long backed the Islamic government of Sudan's president and military leader, Omar al-Beshir. For the past two decades civil war has pitted animist and Christians in the south against Arab-Muslims of the north. — (AFP) 


© Agence France Presse 


© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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