From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Feb 22 2009 - 15:50:06 EST
INTERVIEW-Sudan investors wary of war crimes case - minister
Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:11pm GMT
* ICC fears are hurting Sudan investment
* Rising output to be boosted by new oil field
* Hopes for new finds in at least four oil blocks
* Sudan has long term nuclear, solar, wind power plans
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Investors are delaying projects in Sudan
because of uncertainty over the outcome of a looming war crimes case against
its president, the country's energy and mining minister said on Sunday.
Judges from the International Criminal Court are currently deciding whether
to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on
charges he masterminded genocide and other atrocities in the country's
Energy Minister Al-Zubeir Ahmed al-Hassan said the global court's case has
already hit investor confidence, despite Sudan's key oil industry showing
signs of continued growth.
"Big investors all over the world will be waiting to see how the ICC will
go," he told Reuters in an interview at the ministry building on the banks
of the River Nile.
"The wait-to-see environment is not positive for Sudan. It is harming
The minister, who did not give examples of delayed investments, said it was
too early to say how the ICC decision would specifically hit the oil
industry, which last year provided more than 60 percent of Sudan's revenues.
Sudan was expected to produce an average of 540,000-550,000 barrels of oil a
day in 2009, "ending the year with something nearer to 600,000", he said.
Growth would come primarily from recent expansions to fields in Sudan's oil
blocks 7 and 3, run by a consortium headed by state-owned China National
Petroleum Corp (CNPC).
The blocks in the southeast of the country would become even more lucrative,
said the minister, with the opening of the new Qamari oil field, due in
There were also hopes of new discoveries across Sudan, he added,
particularly in blocks 8, 11 and a separate site in the north of block 7,
where recent drilling or seismic work have shown promise.
Sudan was also due to start its first offshore drilling operation in the Red
Sea by the end of the year, he added, in a block run by a coalition
dominated by Malaysia's state oil firm, Petronas.
The country's largely oil-fired economy has been hit hard by the recent
falls in energy prices, caused by the global financial slowdown.
Wide-ranging trade sanctions, which the United States has imposed on Sudan
since the 1990s, have already weighed on the price Sudan can get for its
oil, say traders, particularly its hard-to-sell acidic Dar Blend crude.
U.S companies are banned from doing business with Africa's biggest country
and Sudan is also barred from using U.S. technology and equipment --
although China and other investors have been quick to make up the shortfall.
"We don't know if (the ICC arrest warrant) will happen and, if it happens,
how the international community is going to go with this," said Al-Zubeir.
"There are already sanctions in many areas ... We don't know if this will go
to another stage of U.N. sanctions."
Sudan had long-terms plans to develop solar, wind and, eventually, nuclear
power to bring cheap energy to some of its most remote regions, the minister
The nuclear plans were still in the early planning stage and the country was
hoping to receive guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency, he
But Sudan had already started importing solar technology from China and
India and was planning a study on possible sites for wind farms, he added.
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens; Editing by Sophie Hares)
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.
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