Russian oil company heads to Africa's Sudan

Russia is bringing back its positions in Africa that were lost after the break-up of the USSR. Angola, Congo, and Sudan are now in the field of Russia’s business interests. The joint (Russia and Belarus) oil and gas company Slavneft signed an agreement with the government of Sudan about the division of the production on oil and gas bearing No. 9, which is situated in the central part of Sudan.

The president of the company, Mr. Gutseriyev conducted negotiations with Sudan’s foreign minister. Slavneft will start working on block number 9 in February-March, it is intended to invest some $126 million in the development and exploration works.

Achieving such an agreement became possible after the UN’s Security Council withdrew its sanctions from Sudan (the sanctions were in effect since 1996). The country has saved the debt to the foreign states in the sum of over $25 billion, including the debt to the IMF – about two billion dollars.

The withdrawal of the sanctions opened extensive opportunities for the foreign investments to be attracted in Sudan’s economy. The company Slavneft was one of the first amid those, which came back to the country, ruined by the civil war. The company signed an agreement in the spring of the past year, pertaining to the cooperation with Sudan’s ministry for energy and mining.

Sudan connects its economic development with oil, first and foremost. For the time being, there are some 12 million tons of oil extracted in the country a year, while the potential reserves of Block-9 and Block-11 only are evaluated in the sum of 140 million tons.

The civil war has been waged in the country since 1983 – the rebels from the southern provinces are trying to gain the independence from the Muslim government. As a result, almost all largest petroleum companies of the world left Sudan. Those, who remained there, are not a competition to Slavneft.

But everything is not that fine as it could be. There are also the political difficulties in addition to the economic ones (large amount of the investments and so on). Sudan in on USA’s black list as a country, which had contacts with prime suspect, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization. Bin Laden was living in Sudan in the beginning of the 90s (he was given the political shelter there), he set up a construction firm in the country, which is still operating, but without Bin Ladne now. In 1996 Sudan asked Bin Laden to leave the country, and that was what he did. But the country is strongly connected with terrorists’ activity anyway.

But this does not stop Slavneft anyway. The expansion of the Russian companies in Africa will go on. The company is not going to stop, it is currently conducting negotiations about the establishment of the consortium with the Russian companies to develop other deposits in Sudan. The perspectives of the African market of oil are very extensive, and both Russia and the West realize that.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

On the photo: Slavneft's label

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