A week after the launch of its report on lack of transparency in the oil revenue sharing agreement between north and south Sudan, campaign group Global Witness has welcomed indications from the authorities in Khartoum and Juba that they intend to investigate oil revenue figures.
The report, Fuelling Mistrust, the need for transparency in Sudan's oil industry, warned that lack of transparency in the oil sector could destabilise the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was based on an agreement to share oil revenues. The CPA was signed in 2005 and brought an end to Africa's longest running civil war.
On Friday 11 September, following a briefing by Global Witness to the Council of Ministers in Juba, the Government of Southern Sudan announced its intention to support a full, independent audit of oil revenues. This was reported by the Sudan Tribune on September 12.
On September 15, Reuters reported that the Khartoum government in the north would also look into the accuracy of the oil production figures. The authorities in Khartoum stopped short of calling for an independent audit, instead saying that the Ministry of Energy and Mining would check the revenue figures it received from oil producers.
Rosie Sharpe, who leads Global Witness' work on Sudan, said: "This is a welcome signal that that the authorities in the north and south may be ready to take steps to improve transparency in the oil sector in Sudan, which is vital if the wealth sharing agreement is to work. We think there should be a fully independent audit of all the figures since 2005, which is made publicly available."
Global Witness' report highlighted discrepancies between the oil production figures reported by the government in the north and those published in the annual report of the Chinese company CNPC, the main operator of the working oil blocks. The discrepancies ranged from 9-26%, with the company consistently reporting higher production.
The statement from the government in Khartoum, reported on Reuters, suggested that it could be the Chinese company that was mis-reporting.
Rosie Sharpe: "We would welcome a dialogue with Khartoum and with CNPC about their data. Both sets of figure that we looked at were from official sources. Both of them can't be right. It shouldn't be the Ministry of Energy and Mining that checks the figures - but a credible auditor, trusted by both sides, with the results made public for all to see. Furthermore, the authorities in the south should be involved in marketing and selling the oil, otherwise the mistrust will continue to grow."
For more information, contact Amy Barry on +44 (0)207 4925858, +44 (0)7980 664397