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According to the 2008 BP Statistical Energy Survey, Sudan had proved oil reserves of 6.614 billion barrels at the end of 2007 or 0.53 % of the world's reserves.

So far, Sudanese oil exploration has been limited to the central and south-central regions due to civil conflict. The upstream oil industry could be key to the future of the economy of the North East African state of Sudan. Although the country is considered to be vastly under-explored, it has been a producer of oil and gas for a number of years. The country's oil and gas reserves are vast and the majority of proven reserves are located in the south in the Muglad and Melut basins. The downstream oil industry in Sudan is an important sector in the country's economy as Sudan has three refineries and imports both refined product and crude oil. The completion of a new refinery has made Sudan largely self sufficient and able to export refined as well as crude products. Sudan still needs to import jet fuel however. The country is also rich in natural gas with reserves estimated at 3 trillion cubic feet. Currently oil is Sudan's main export, and the production is increasing dramatically. With rising oil revenues the Sudanese economy is booming, with a growth rate of about 9% in 2007.


Exploration activity began at the end of the 1950s in the coastal waters of the Red Sea and Sudanese continental shelf. Internal political unrest caused many companies to withdraw from Sudan and the deterioration in security conditions on the oil fields caused the oil companies to suspend all operations in 1984. Since the early 1990's however, foreign oil companies began to return. In December 1996 the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) was formed comprising the China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas, Sudapet and Araxis which provided a much needed injection of capital, especially into developing the Unity and Heglig fields. In November 1997 the United States imposed sanctions against Sudan on the basis that profits from oil were being used to fuel the civil war. The pressure of sanctions has kept American firms out of Sudan, although Canadian company Talisman Energy is still operating in the Sudan. Talisman Energy has also purchased Araxis' share in GNPOC. Current players in Sudan include GNPOC, Lundin Oil (IPC Sudan Ltd), Petronas, Sudapet, Gulf Petroleum Corporation (GPC), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), National Iranian Gas Company, OMV, Royal Dutch / Shell, and Talisman Energy. TotalFinaElf are reportedly looking to return to their concession in the Bor Basin and are listed as being the most likely partners to Petronas in their permit for Block 5B.

The Sudanese crude oil is waxy in character, has an average API degree of 32 and possesses no sulfur. The paraffinic nature of the crude makes it a good feed stock for lubricating oils. In August 1999, the first shipment of crude oil was exported from Sudan to Singapore. The new Red Sea terminal is located in the port of Bashair about 25 kilometers south of Port Sudan. Port Bashair terminal has a storage capacity of 2 million barrels with the potential to increase to 3.2 million barrels with the use of reserve reservoirs. The terminal at Bashair is supplied via a 1,500 kilometer pipeline from the Heglig oilfield which was opened in May 1999. Traders Trafigura have been appointed the official marketers of Sudan’s Nile Blend. By the beginning of 2000, 15 million barrels of oil had been shipped from Sudan.


Distribution and marketing of fuels products is carried out by Agip, ExxonMobil, Nile Petroleum, and Shell. Earlier in 1996, it was announced that the government had begun negotiations with the distributors to end the government monopoly on the importation of petroleum products other than aviation fuel for foreign aircraft. The plan would be for distributors to import products in proportion to their current quotas (15%, 20%, 35% and 30% respectively) and resell to the government on (unfavorable) credit terms.

The distribution infrastructure consists of river, road, pipeline and railway systems, all of which are in need of improvement. There is a product jetty at Port Sudan and 55 storage depots with a total capacity of 285,000 cu m. A pipeline runs from the refinery at Port Sudan to the major consuming centre of Khartoum. The World Bank sees Sudan as a country with potential to reduce product costs and has made several recommendations for reducing costs and introducing a more efficient refining and marketing environment.

Sudan is dependent on imported petroleum products as its domestic production and refining capacity is not sufficient to cater for its needs. The country has a small refinery at Port Sudan.

Petroleum Law and Legislation

The industry is regulated by the Ministry of Energy and Mining. The Ministry of Finance and Planning is also involved in the energy sector. Its representatives are members of the Petroleum Affairs Board which is responsible for final approval of petroleum contracts. However, day to day control of the oil industry is exercised by the Exploration and Production Authority, a state owned entity.

Oil & Gas Companies

Some of the notable oil and gas companies operating in Sudan are:

  • Agip
  • ExxonMobil
  • Nile Petroleum:
  • Shell
  • Talisman Energy
  • Gulf Petroleum Corporation (GPC)
  • Sudapet
  • China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)
  • National Iranian Gas Company

Key Figures

  • Oil production:473,000 bbl/day(2008)
  • Oil Consumption: 86,000 bbl/day(2008)
  • Oil Exports: 303,800 bbl/day(2007)
  • Oil Imports: 11,400 bbl/day(2007)
  • Oil Proved Reserves:6.8 billion bbl (2009)
  • Natural Gas Production: 0 cu m(2008)
  • Natural Gas Consumption: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Exports: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Imports: 0 cu m (2008)
  • Natural Gas Proved reserves: 84.95 billion cu m(2009)

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