By Philip Thon Aleu
May 4, 2008 (BOR, Jonglei) – Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) minister of Energy and Mining has said Tuesday April 30 in Bor Town that “what is happening in Jonglei is cattle theft and has nothing to do with Oil Companies.”
Jonglei government acknowledged the minister’s observation.
Minister John Luk Jok told reporters that GoSS however; provide “normal security.” “GoSS provides security to the oil companies. Just a normal security,” he said.
Oil companies operating in Jonglei, he said, include France Oil Company – TOTAL in Block B, ASCOM Sudd. Co., White Nile both in Block 5B. “TOTAL has just being allowed to operate in Jonglei,” Hon. Luk Jok said.
He added that TOTAL will work in Block B which covers an area of 117,000 Km2; just more than half total area of Jonglei.
The process to start oil operation in Jonglei, he said is being delayed by arrangements known by the TOTAL but not his government. Jonglei government has offered a piece of land for TOTAL Oil CO. to erect it base in Bor town.
TOTAL returns in more than twenty years after their work had being halted by the South-North civil war of 1983-2005.
“Security, which was thought as a stabling block for oil companies operation had never directing affected them. All reports obtained since 2005 peace deal never showed local people’s interference with foreigners and minister’s correction though carries weight.”
Conflicts among oil Companies, Minister Luk said are minimum. “There is no much problem between the oil companies,” the minister said.
Interview made by Sudan Tribune with TOTAL staff in February 2008 here (Bor) indicates fierce competition between Oil companies in one of South Sudan’s Oil rich states.
“We are not a government or humanitarian company to build schools, hospitals or mention them. We shall mean our work,” TOTAL Co. operation director Oliver said then. He lamented however, that the local community will take adequate participation at the company’s works.
ASCOM Sudd. CO., meanwhile show it works by building higher school in Bor Town, renovating Governor’s residency and constructing roads, drilling water points in a separate contract.
Minister Luk said it is an obligation too, to the oil companies to participate in developing the locality, employing more local staff and respect the environment.
On the other hand, the minister said increasing number of Sudanese officials working with oil companies, which he calls “Sudanization” has being made “Northernization.” “Southern Sudanese are not represented at the Oil operation work. It is dominated by Northerners,” he said.
Mr. Luk revealed that this complain has already being laid at the head office in Khartoum.
He however doubts whether Southern Sudanese are capable to work in the field. “It is a very difficult task for us. We just complain but very few people are qualified to work with oil companies,” He said.
The minister said oil companies should though be training local people in conjunction with the government. Qualified individuals, he said can too show-up to help southernizing oil operations.