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Lundin’s own promotional material stressed the value of the GNPOC pipeline to Block 5A270: the GNPOC export pipeline, with its large (100,000 barrels per day) reserve capacities available for third party users, was “the most important technical achievement for the future of the project,” which lay approximately seventy-five kilometers southeast of the GNPOC Unity field.271 Talisman also admitted that the pipeline was necessary to make development of Block 5A feasible, and that on several occasions representatives of Lundin had informally discussed tying production areas in Block 5A into the GNPOC pipeline.272 Block 5A Operations in 1998 The most visible early Lundin explorations in Block 5A took place in the toic, in a location the Jagei Nuer know as Ryer, 273 about ten miles west of the Nile and a distance east of Duar. Lundin gave this drilling site the name “Thar Jath”; Thar Jath is a village or port on the Nile not far away.274 270 Lundin Oil press release, “Lundin Oil Spuds First Well in Sudan,”.
271 Lundin Oil AB: Sudan, http://www.Lundinoil.com/eng/operations/sudan/index.html (accessed November 28, 2000).
272 Talisman CEO Jim Buckee, Human Rights Watch interview, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, February 3, 2000.
273 When the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan in 2001 cited oil-related destruction near Rier [Ryer], Lundin responded that “Rier” was not in Block 5A. Human Rights Watch has concluded that Ryer is the same location where the company had its first drilling operation, which the company called “Thar Jath.” Not only do former residents identify the location of the drilling operation—and Lundin admittedly had only one drilling rig in place at the time—but the Nuer forces which attacked the drilling rig in 1999 said that it was in Ryer.
A 1939 map drawn up by the British War Office shows that Ryer is the only village identified in that vicinity. Map, “Sudan,” by Geographical Section, General Staff, No. 2692, Published by the War Office, London, 1914, 4th Ed. 1939.
A British district commissioner in the area, Percy Coriat, listed “Tharjath & Ryer” in his handing-over notes to his successor in 1931, where Ryer was listed as a Jagei Nuer area of about 5,195 (male) taxpayers. Document 4.1, reprinted in Percy Coriat, Governing the Nuer: Documents in Nuer history and ethnography, 1922-1931, ed. D. H. Johnson (Oxford: Journal of Anthropology Society of Oxford, 1993), p. 161. The spelling Human Rights Watch uses for the location of the first Lundin exploratory drilling in Block 5A is “Ryer.” This is the oldest spelling found.
140Oil Fuels the War
The consortium also had a seismic operation based on a barge with containers on the Nile, in the vicinity of the port. The headquarters of Lundin’s operations in Block 5A were at this port (Thar Jath) southeast of Ryer. According to local sources, the temporary center of these operations in 1998 had been in Guk,275 with company buildings but no rigs.276 Lundin (IPC) sent out staff in October-November 1997, including security consultants from Rappaport, a private security company in London, to set up the operation some seventy-five to one hundred kilometers south of Bentiu, in Block 5A. They intended to start with seismic tests; although they had such data from Chevron, it was fifteen years old.277 “Seismic acquisition commenced in 1998 and to date [October 2000] over 1,485 kilometres of data have been acquired,” according to Lundin.278 Lundin had two exploration locations, called “highland” (Ryer/Thar Jath) and “lowland” or “swamp” (barges on or near the Nile). In 1998 and 1999, the oil company cleared a non-tarmacked road from Bentiu to Duar, Guk, and Ryer/Thar Jath. Ryer was forty minutes by car east from Guk over this road, Ultimately Lundin discovered that its rig was indeed in a place known as Ryer. Christine Batruch, Lundin, Human Rights Watch interview, Washington, D.C., November 21, 2001. Another Rier, a relief delivery location in Bul Nuer territory near Mayom, was heavily bombed by the government in May 2002. See below. Rier or ryer means “big shady tree” in Nuer.
274 Map, “Sudan: Tribal Map, Sheet 3,” Sudan Survey Department, Khartoum (1946, corrected 1969) (U.S. Library of Congress collection).
275 Guk is about two hours east of Koch on foot, about a seven hours’ walk (for the Nuer) north of Ler town. Ler chief, Human Rights Watch interview, Khartoum, July 26, 1999.
276 William Magany, interview, August 18, 1999; Ler chief, interview, July 26, 1999.
277 According to Paul Wilson, a twenty-five-year British army veteran working for Rappaport as security consultant to Lundin, the oil company did not gain access to Block 5A from the authorities until late December 1997, due to obstruction by lower level government officials. The company’s equipment arrived in January-February 1998 from Khartoum by barge. Paul Wilson, Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Nigeria, May 16, 2001.
278 Lundin Oil, “Sudan: Operation Fact Sheet—October 2000,” www.Lundinoil.com/eng/sudan.html (accessed November 28, 2000).
Increasingly sophisticated seismic techniques—the reflection and refraction of sound waves propagated through the earth—reveal details of the structure and interrelationship of various layers in the subsurface that point to the probable presence of petroleum.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, “Petroleum: Exploration.” http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=761576221&sec=5#s5 (accessed May 2, 2001).
141Human Rights Watch
according to a security consultant working for Lundin. He said that they built the road parallel to the old road but did not use the old road because it had been landmined. In 1998, the oil company began to use helicopters, which cut the travel time from Heglig to the Lundin Thar Jath/Ryer location down to one hour from five or six hours, and avoided the danger of landmines.279 One Nuer observer reported that the government of Sudan put in a military airstrip to defend the oil company at Ryer/Thar Jath.280 Lundin and its subcontractors employed some Guk villagers for manual work but, according to one chief, Chinese and Arab workers were brought in “by the hundreds” to replace the Nuer.281 Chinese subcontractors working for the Lundin consortium reportedly were doing surveys, explorations, and road-building around the Nile, east of Duar and Koch, starting in 1998.282 At different times security for this project was provided by practically everyone—the SSDF, local police, the government army, and private consultants—until May 1999, when the SSDF attacked the Ryer/Thar Jath facility.283 After the Sudanese government army retook the Ryer/Thar Jath drilling site in May 1999, the rebels never recaptured it. Nevertheless, that location has not produced any oil to date, on account of the war.
279 Paul Wilson, interview, May 16, 2001.
280 William Magany, interview, August 18, 1999.
281 Isaac Magok Gaalwak, Ler paramount chief (Dok Nuer), Human Rights Watch interview, Paliang, Tonj County, Bahr El Ghazal, southern Sudan, August 14, 1999.
282 Michael Wal Yang, RASS coordinator Ler province, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 18, 1999.
283 SSDF officer, interview, August 3, 1999.
142Oil Fuels the War
Fighting and Displacement of Nuer Communities in Block 5A, May-October 1998 In 1998, as the oil exploration was getting off the ground again in Block 5A, Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s government-backed militia pushed the civilians out of the main area of exploration. As his forces swept across Block 5A from north to south, temporarily displacing tens of thousands, there was some fighting with Riek Machar’s SSDF (also allied with the government at this time but short on ammunition), but most fighting involved contact with unarmed civilians.
Paulino Matiep and Riek Machar were, on one level, continuing their struggle for the governorship of Unity State. At the bottom, however, the fight concerned whether Riek Machar’s group would share in the rewards of the concession through providing security for oil companies working in oil-rich Block 5A.
The UDSF/SSDF was determined not to be passed over as it had been with Blocks 1 and 2.284 Lundin’s own mixed security service included guards selected by Khartoum and police from Bentiu (UDSF/SSDF). Lundin also had its own expatriate security consultants.
But the army and the Sudanese government’s minister of mining in Khartoum were not happy with Lundin’s association with the UDSF Unity State government, according to the governor.285 It seemed that powerful persons in the central government and armed forces wanted forces under their direct control to be the exclusive security provider for all oil operations. 286 Khartoum’s definition of security, as demonstrated later, was an extensive cordon sanitaire, cleared of all civilians, stretching for kilometers beyond each oil rig, oil road, and piece of equipment. Riek Machar’s definition of security was to leave his constituents in their homes and provide local police with their ears to the ground to guard against 284 Riek Machar, interview, August 8, 2000.
285 Taban Deng, interview, July 26, 1999. Taban Deng and others frequently referred to Lundin by its old name, IPC.
286 The Sudanese government authorities said that Lundin (IPC) needed the protection of their troops. Lundin’s security consultant Paul Wilson who was opposed to the Khartoum approach and argued against it, believed that, in retaliation, the Khartoum government started to block the Lundin (IPC) supplies coming overland through Bentiu, including food for the work crews. Lundin then successfully resorted to helicopters for supplies. Paul Wilson, interview, May 16, 2001.
attacks. Riek Machar lost this battle. The northern government used the Lundin presence on the ground as a platform on which to build its first military toehold in the oilfields south of Bentiu.
Government Depopulates Block 5A, 1998 After a Chinese subcontractor installed a large compound in Ryer/Thar Jath in 1998 and moved in its employees, the people living in the area were told to move by Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep, who gave this message to the chiefs. As one of them reported, Paulino Matiep gave no reason other than that the oil “operations were going to be here so you have to go away, the cows will destroy everything.”287 Everyone left the Ryer/Thar Jath area and Paulino Matiep’s men tore down or burned all but two houses, according to the same Nuer chief. Those who moved received no assistance with trucks or tents and no compensation of any kind. Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep gave them only a brief time to leave, then burned the houses. The people were allowed to take only their cows, the chief said.
While a devastating famine among the Dinka in Bahr El Ghazal to the west was gripping the attention of relief agencies in Sudan in mid-1998, Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep turned his Bul Nuer militia on Riek Machar’s SSDF troops and on civilians, looting and engaging in scorched earth warfare. According to relief agency records, Paulino Matiep’s militia attacked Nhialdiu (south of Rupnyagai) and two other villages in February 25, 1998. In April 1998 six other villages in the Nhialdiu area were burned and looted. This attack occurred before the May 7, 1998 NGO assessment was to take place in two villages to the west and south of Nhialdiu. The NGO assessment recorded these fact, and noted that the health center in Nhialdiu was looted, burned, and destroyed, along with all its health records. 288 This fighting took place away from the Bul Nuer home area, and as described below much occurred where Lundin intended to drill and where Chevron had earlier explored, down into Ler and Adok, the Dok Nuer area. Bul Nuer, according to one Nuer chief, did not traditionally fight the Dok Nuer, except 287 Ler chief, interview, July 26, 1999.
288 Relief agency assessment in Nhialdiu, Leek district, Western Upper Nile, May 12-15, 1998, dated May 16, 1998 (anonymity requested).
when women were raped or disputes arose between families. Yet the government continually attempted to pass off this fighting between Paulino Matiep and Riek Machar as “traditional tribal fighting,” which the chiefs insisted it was not.289 The raids and looting continued. On June 27, 1998,, the civilians fled a Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep attack on Duar town, a Jagei Nuer area. Paulino Matiep’s forces burned the compound of the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the building housing the local authority (called the parish), and the school (assisted by UNICEF). The soldiers followed this pattern—looting and burning the important structures—in all Jagei Nuer locations, observed a local relief official. Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s troops raided three big Jagei cattle camps, taking all the cattle they found in the camps. They killed goats and cows for food; they stripped captured women of their clothes.290 The WFP calculated that about 25 percent of the original population of Duar moved out of the area following this fighting and these attacks, some to islands in the Nile river, 291 thought safe because they were inaccessible.
Even oil company workers were not exempt: one night, Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s men ambushed one of Lundin’s trucks and took prisoner the four Sudanese employees in it. Two escaped and two were summarily executed. The police found their bodies the next day: they had been stripped, bound, gagged, and shot in the back of the head. It appeared that Paulino Matiep’s men had been looking for the two, who were “from the wrong tribe.”292 People displaced from Koch, another Jagei Nuer area, said Paulino Matiep’s forces attacked the area three times in 1998. In Koch, the troops burned churches, and in the surrounding villages they destroyed an estimated fifty small chapels, both Catholic and Presbyterian, four clinics, five schools, and six local government posts (called stations). This destruction began on or about June 28, 1998.
289 Ler chief, interview, July 26, 1999.
290 William Magany, interview, August 18, 1999.
291 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 83: April 18-24, 1999,” Rome, May 11, 1999.
292 This took place in the first half of 1998. Paul Wilson, interview, May 16, 2001.