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OIL

Prosecutor to investigate oil firm accusations

A Swedish prosecutor has indicated that there will be an investigation into claims made in a report that Swedish company Lundin Oil was involved in war crimes in Sudan during the time that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt sat on the board.

Prosecutor to investigate oil firm accusations

The report has now been forwarded to the Swedish international prosecutor’s office and prosecutor Magnus Elving plans to request staff from the National Swedish Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Polistidningen news website.

“There is a clear indication that there will be an investigation in Sudan regarding the crimes described in the report. In which case it would concern investigations against certain individuals, but I do not want to get ahead of myself,” Elving told Polistidningen.

The firm, which was sold to Talisman Energy in 2001, with residual operations becoming Lundin Petroleum, has rejected the allegations forwarded in the report by a group of NGOs presented on Tuesday.

“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.'”

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.

The report is framed by an umbrella group named the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) argues that Sudanese troops, in collaboration with militias, attacked and drove away the civilian population in areas where companies could drill for oil.

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt has said through his press secretary Irena Busic that he would welcome a court trial of the allegations, according to Polistidningen.

In a comment responding to Ian Lundin’s open letter to shareholders ECOS on Wednesday insisted that the report contained new allegations pertaining to developments in the war after 2001.

The group argue that 12,000 people and 500,000 cattle died in the vicinity of concession block 5a during this time and that the consortium, which was led by Malaysian firm Petronas, employed a former colonel in the Sudanese armed forces to head their security operation.

Lundin Petroleum sold its stake in block 5A in April 2003 to Petronas after having conducted a series of drilling but before any oil was extracted and prior to the signing of a comprehensive peace deal ending Sudan’s long civil war.

The conflict, between the Muslim north and Christian south, first broke out in 1955 and continued until 2005 and 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.