3 The history of Sudan and the role of CNOCs
Sudan is often seen as the testing ground for CNOCs in Africa. Luke Patey is a researcher who has written extensively on China’s involvement in the Sudans. He says that: ‘When they first entered the global scene in the 1990s, Chinese NOCs held few competitive advantages over international oil companies. They lacked the organizational capabilities and expertise to manage large projects overseas and had little experience with political and security risk’ (2017, p.756). In his work, Patey shows how experience in Sudan and South Sudan ‘were instrumental in leveraging the competitiveness of the China National Petroleum Corporation, China’s largest oil company, particularly through developing its risk management capabilities, and steering its global strategy’ (2017, p. 755).
While Patey focuses on domestic political conditions within the Sudans, in the remaining sections of this session, you are going to explore how significant international events interact with Sudanese factors to effect change in the way CNOCs are investing.
Sudan is a large country with a long-standing tension around a broad North-South divide which dates back to the colonial period. These tensions have been critical in terms of the country’s more recent political history in which oil has played an important part, as it was the first country where China’s oil industry made significant overseas investments from the mid-1990s onward. Sino-Sudanese relations stretch back much further, as Dr Janet Liao explains:
Transcript: Video 1 A brief history of Chinese NOCs in Sudan
At the same time as China was starting to look outward, Sudan was facing international sanctions, so the interface between the international political and economic system and Sudan’s domestic politics was complex.
Activity 2 Sudan’s recent political history
Here, Professor el-Battahani, an authority on Sudan’s political economy from the Political Science Department at Khartoum University, outlines the recent evolution of the country’s politics. As you watch, consider:
- Who has benefited from oil exploitation in Sudan?
- What role did oil play in the consolidation of power in Sudan?