As people vote in the Sudan election, a recent report says that $700 million – perhaps much more – may have been underpaid to South Sudan since a 2005 peace agreement mandated the sharing of oil revenues with Khartoum in the North.
As Sudanese line up across the country to cast their ballots in the first multiparty Sudan election since 1986, a recent report is bolstering what southern Sudanese leaders have long suspected: that their northern partners in Khartoum have been cheating them out of hundreds of millions in oil revenues.
The report by the Global Witness transparency watchdog in London says that $700 million – perhaps much more – may have been underpaid to the south since a peace agreement mandated the sharing of oil revenues in 2005.
Using oil production figures published by one of the biggest foreign companies producing oil in Sudan, the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC), Global Witness found that the Chinese reported 12 percent higher levels of production in Blue Nile state in 2009 than what the Sudanese government in Khartoum had reported for the same time period.
The findings came soon after a Sept. 2009 report finding discrepancies between 9 percent and 26 percent between government figures and those of the CNPC in 2008.
“It’s impossible to know which figures are correct, the Sudanese government’s or the oil company’s, but it is clear that both cannot be,” says Rosie Sharpe, a campaigner for Global Witness in London. The lack of accurate data could be dangerous, Ms. Sharpe says, particularly between two well-armed rivals who once fought a 22-year civil war that just ended in 2005 with the power-sharing peace agreement. Part of that peace agreement included sharing oil revenues, but five years of shady numbers have done nothing to build trust between the north and south.