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National oil company looks towards the future

SUDAPET, the state-owned national petroleum company, controls between 5-20 percent of every oil-producing block in the country.

The biggest project it is currently involved in is the development of Blocks 3 and 7 in southeastern Sudan, where a major oil field has been discovered. Sudapet has an 8 percent stake in the controlling Petrodar consortium, partnering the China National Petroleum Corporation (41 percent), Petronas (40 percent), Gulf Oil Petroleum (6 percent), and the Al Thani Corporation (5 percent).

“We are fully engaged, choosing the contractors, approving the value of the contracts, overseeing and participating in the construction and engineering,” says Yousif Mohamed Ahmed, Sudapet’s General Manager. “It is a good chance for our people to take part in a huge project and to strengthen their experience and knowledge.”

Sudapet aspires to follow the example of national oil companies like Petronas. It aims to secure an increasingly strong position in the domestic market, and subsequently to establish a considerable regional presence.

Dr. Ahmed explains, “When Sudapet was established it was with the vision that it would become a ‘real’ oil company in the future. We are preparing to operate by ourselves, first in Sudan, and then to operate within the region, to invest in both exploration and production. We are looking forward to seeing Sudapet attain international status.”

A year ago, Sudapet launched a training center, starting with a welding unit. “Welders for pipelines are being brought in from the Far East at very high cost, and there were no Sudanese who could do the work. Now we have graduated our first batch of welders, and they are already working in the field.”

Later the center will be expanded to train geologists, engineers, and other skilled workers in the petroleum industry. The aim in the long term is to turn it into a national institute for studies and training in petroleum related fields.

“Our goal is to build the capacity of the Sudanese labor force,” says Dr. Ahmed. “We feel that a mature Sudanese oil sector should eventually be managed and operated by the Sudanese themselves.”

He would like to see Americans returning to participate in the oil industry. “The doors are not closed to western or American companies. We know that they have greater access to better technology than others.

“Whenever we have a chance to meet with European and American companies, we always encourage them to come and see for themselves. They are welcome to participate and I think they are eager to come, but, as yet, because of the embargo they cannot.”