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Sudan’s Oil Still Allures US, Chinese Investors

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Sudan’s Oil Still Allures US, Chinese Investors

Posted by Amanda Hsiao on November 23, 2009

Sudan's Oil Still Allures US, Chinese Investors

Despite pressures to disengage with Khartoum’s genocidal regime, the international community seems bent on pouring money into Sudan’s oil industry. Here’s a look at some recent investment decisions.

On Thursday, shareholders for two funds managed by U.S.-based Putnam Investments voted to reject measures to divest from oil companies working in Sudan. Boston-based Investors Against Genocide was one organization that pressed Putnam to divest. IAG, whose mission is to convince investment firms to change their investment strategies to avoid complicity in genocide, states on its website:

Years after the genocide in Darfur was publicly acknowledged, millions of people are unknowingly and inadvertently investing in the companies that are funding this genocide. Investors entrust their family savings and pension funds to mutual fund and other investment firms, which in turn invest those savings in companies which help to fund genocide.

The chair of the Putnam trustees said that the funds’ investments in Sudan were legal and that such policy questions are best left for governments, rather than companies like Putnam, to decide.

Meanwhile, China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil company, has signed agreements to expand Sudan’s main refinery and for advance payments for crude oil. An official from Sudan’s state oil company said they hoped to double the refinery’s capacity to 200,000 barrels a day, with expansion set to be complete by 2011. With much of Sudan’s oil located in the South and in contentious border areas, and with arrangements for “wealth-sharing” still left to be worked out between the North and South, this agreement seems prematurely optimistic. By the time the refinery expansion is complete next year, how will Sudan’s oil be parceled out?

On a separate and final note, an article from AFP details how villagers in South Sudan are suffering from the environmental and health hazards of water supplies polluted by oil production, nearby.


Photo: Oil platforms in southern Sudan (AP)