Control of Oil at the Center of Sudanese Conflict

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir

In January, southern Sudan will hold an independence referendum that will likely further divide Africa's largest country. The oil in the south, which has been controlled from the northern capital of Khartoum, will instead be controlled by the southern capital of Juba. Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil producer, behind Nigeria and Angola. It produced 490,000 barrels of oil a day last year, a 50 percent increase from 2006. China, which has been wining and dining Sudanese officials from the north and south, has a major interest in how the oil issue plays out. The China Petroleum Corp. owns 41 percent of Petrodar, and a second Chinese company owns 6 percent. Sudan's government owns 8 percent. China has managed to maintain independent and overlapping relations with the south and the north. Although control of oil is a major focal point of the conflict, it also has a great chance of uniting the country based on the revenue it stands to generate. Earlier this month, the ministers for oil and defense from both north and south met in Sudan's oil-producing middle and agreed that joint security forces will guard installations before and after the Jan. 9 referendum.

This is the day that the world will be watching Sudan to see how the south's independence will play out in a country fresh out of a civil war. We say no to genocide. We hope they do too.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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