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OIL

Swedish oil company accused of war crimes

Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum and the consortium it belonged to in the Sudan were involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a new report. The company has denied the accusations.

Swedish oil company accused of war crimes

The claims centre around the period between 1997 and 2003 when ten thousand people were killed and nearly 200,000 were forced to flee to southern Sudan.

Sudanese troops, in collaboration with militias, attacked and drove away the civilian population in areas where companies could extract oil, according to a report that some backed by about 50 NGOs in the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan.

One of the authors of the report, Egbert Wesserlink, stresses that Lundin Petroleum did not carry out the suspected abuse. According to him, they instead hired the Sudanese officers.

“Our conclusion is that Lundin contributed to there being war in the area and not to peace and development as they themselves claim,” he told Ekot.

In response, Lundin Chairman Ian H. Lundin said in a statement, “There is no new evidence in this report. The report repeats the conclusions, innuendo and false allegations based on partisan and misleading information that was rejected during that time in a document entitled ‘Lundin Oil in Sudan, May 2001.'”

Oil companies Petronas and OMV were Lundin’s partners in Sudan and the report asserts that companies had earlier received help by Sudanese army and loyalist militias to fight other militias who had tried to stop oil extraction.

“It is not credible when Lundin said that they were unaware of the atrocities and war in the region,” said Wesserlink, referring to Lundin Petroleum repudiating the accusations in an email.

Shane Quinn, program officer at the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights, told The Local that it is good that this report comes out now, even if it addresses events that ended seven years ago.

“There was an earlier report about them forcibly moving people,” Quinn told The Local. “They’ve always gotten off scot-free and there has been extremely little media coverage, maybe due to the Carl Bildt connection. It has always struck me as strange since Sweden has this big human rights portfolio.”

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt was on the board of Lundin until 2006.

Shane Quinn added that it was worth investigating the coalition behind the report in terms of their agenda and whether they had a religious lobby.

The allegations date back to the period after 1997 and when Lundin Oil, a firm that pre-dated Lundin Petroleum and has since been sold to Canadian Talisman, owned rights to drill in the area.

Neither Lundin Oil nor Lundin Petroleum have extracted any oil from Sudan, while they have carried out a number of test drillings, after the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005.

Sudan’s civil war first broke out in 1955 and continued until 2005 after an interval of almost nine years from 1972. The conflict, between the Muslim north and Christian south, is reported to have displaced 4 million southerners and claimed a total of 1.1 million lives.

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OIL

Swede leads Greenpeace Arctic oil mission

A 27-year-old former Swedish oil worker is leading a group of activists who remain on board a drill rig being transported across the Pacific Ocean as Shell seeks an injunction against the move.

Swede leads Greenpeace Arctic oil mission
The Crossing activists. Photo: Vincenzo Floramo/Greenpeace
Andreas Widlund, who says he became frustrated witnessing the hunt for Arctic oil, joined Greenpeace soon after quitting the oil industry and is among a team of six taking part in what Greenpeace has dubbed 'The Crossing'.
 
Widlund's biography on the campaign group's site says he "felt he could not continue to work actively for a business that drives the climate crisis forward".
 
Originally from Umeå in northern Sweden, he has joined activists from Germany, the USA, Austria and New Zealand for the trip.
 
On Tuesday, using inflatable boats and climbing gear, the campaigners managed to clamber on board the Polar Pioneer oil rig run by Shell which is heading towards Alaska to drill for oil. 
 
They then put up a banner in protest of Arctic offshore drilling, but promised not to interfere with the ship's navigation.
 
In a post on its website, Greenpeace described the crew as "determined to shine a white hot light on Shell’s reckless hunt for extreme Arctic oil. With them in spirit are millions of people from around the world who have joined the call for a global sanctuary in the Arctic".
 
"We don’t know how this journey will end or whether we'll succeed, but we know that we are not sailing towards this challenge alone," the statement added.
 
Widlund later tweeted: "I'm just an ordinary guy and I think that if you had the opportunity to do what I do you'd have the courage and strength to do it."
 
The youngest member of the group, Zoe Buckley Lennox, 21, from Australia posted several further updates on Wednesday. Describing the atmosphere, she said: "The wind is howling and the sound of flapping tarps fills the air". Other posts were about the crew's lack of access to toilets and coffee.

 

A spokesperson for the US government told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday that the activists were exposing themselves and the crew to "great risks" and Shell's US spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh sent an email to the UK's Guardian newspaper stating that Greenpeace was deploying "illegal tactics".
 
“We respect their views and value the dialogue,” she wrote.
 
“We will not, however, condone the illegal tactics employed by Greenpeace. Nor will we allow these stunts to distract from preparations underway to execute a safe and responsible exploration programme.”
 
After Shell formally lodged an injunction designed to get the crew removed from the ship, Greenpeace USA's executive director Annie Leonard said: “This injunction is Shell’s latest attempt to keep people from standing up for the Arctic. Shell thinks it can do whatever it wants, but there’s one thing the company still clearly fears — ordinary people standing up to save the Arctic."

“Shell wants activists off its rig. We want Shell out of the Arctic."

The Polar Pioneer set off from Malaysia last month. It is one of two rigs Shell is hoping to use for exploratory drilling later this year, although the company is yet to secure the permits it needs to do so.
 
The Greenpeace activists say they are prepared to stay on board for "days or weeks" in order to raise awareness of their campaign.
 
They argue that Shell and other oil giants have failed to demonstrate that they could clear up a major oil spill in icy waters.