Sudan gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1956. Post-colonial Sudan faced many challenges, including conflict in southern Sudan, which over the years, despite interim periods of peace, expanded to other regions of Sudan.

The conflict is often portrayed as being between the North and the South. The North is predominantly Muslim and traditionally served as the administrative centre, while the South is predominantly animist and Christian and holds much of the natural resources. The South obtained independence in 2011.

The Khartoum government was for a long time dominated by the Mahdi Dynasty and its Umma Party. Another element of the conflict is inter-tribal violence. For example, the Dinka tribe is the largest ethnic group in South Sudan and the Nuer tribe dominates the area of Block 5A in Unity State. There was (and continues to be) frequent conflict between the Dinka and the Nuer in Unity State as well as within these tribes.

The elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Madhi was ousted in June 1989 by a military coup led by Omar Al-Bashir, who became president and remained in power until 2019.

Conflict is ongoing in South Sudan between government and opposition forces, the protagonists of both are in many cases the same protagonists who caused conflict during Lundin’s time in Block 5A, despite a new peace agreement signed in September 2018.


In February 1997, Lundin signed an agreement with the Government of Sudan to explore for oil in an area called Block 5A, in the then southern part of Sudan in Unity State, an area that today belongs to the independent state of South Sudan. Shortly after the agreement was signed, Lundin formed a consortium with companies from Austria (OMV), Malaysia (Petronas) and Sudan (Sudapet). The consortium worked together until we divested our interest in Block 5A to Petronas in 2003.

Lundin operated in line with the laws of Sweden, the European Union and the United Nations and always advocated for peace by peaceful means in Sudan.

Throughout its time in Sudan, there were no sanctions in place against European companies. On the contrary, the European Union, and Sweden, had a policy of constructive engagement with Sudan.



April 1996
To ensure peace in the region and as a precursor to the Khartoum Peace Agreement, a Political Charter was signed between the Government of Sudan and factional groups in southern Sudan.

February 1997
An agreement was signed with the Government of Sudan giving Lundin, and soon after the consortium, the right to search for oil in Block 5A.

April 1997
The Khartoum Peace Agreement was officially entered into by the Government of Sudan and factional groups in parts of southern Sudan where oil operations were to take place.


March to August 1997
Scouting trips were conducted in the area to find potential drilling sites, base camp locations and to assess infrastructure needs.

1998 and early 1999
Seismic data gathering and conducting of environmental studies.

Exploratory drilling started in Thar Jath in April.
Thar Jath rig site was attacked in May and three guards were killed. All seismic and drilling activities were discontinued.

Operations were recommenced in January.
Commercial oil discovery at Thar Jath was announced in March.
Operations were suspended in May, initially due to the onset of the rainy season but increasingly due to the unstable security situation.


With the exception of a short period in December 2001, Lundin never resumed field operations before it sold its interest in the area two years later.

June 2003
Sale of interest in Block 5A to Petronas.
After exiting Block 5A, we continued to advocate for peace.
Detailed information regarding our activities is provided in the “Lundin History in Sudan”.


During Lundin’s time in Block 5A, we made a number of infrastructure investments for legitimate operational reasons which also benefited the local communities. The main contractor for the infrastructure projects was a Sudanese construction company.


Lundin constructed a base camp adjacent to an airstrip in Rubkona during the first months of 2000. When Lundin sold its interest in Block 5A to Petronas in 2003, the base camp was taken over by Petronas.


In the autumn of 2000, a Government-owned airstrip in Rubkona was upgraded to make it possible to transport the consortium’s operational personnel and equipment into Block 5A, particularly during the wet season.


To transport heavy equipment to the rig site located 75 kilometres from the airstrip in Rubkona, there was a need for a new road that could be used throughout the year. The road did not interfere with existing population settlements. Construction of the road began in 2000. Upon its completion, many people actually moved closer to the road because of the benefits of transportation, and it was frequently used by the local population as it provided a direct access to the market in Rubkona and to Bentiu where many of the humanitarian organisations were based.


To facilitate transport of people and equipment from the Rubkona base camp to the new all-weather road, a permanent river crossing was built in early 2000 just south of Rubkona. A pontoon solution was chosen because it would not disrupt the water flows or have an impact on the fish stock. This bridge provided a safe and easy passage between Rubkona, Bentiu and the Block 5A area and was regularly used by the local population and humanitarian organisations.


Lundin installed water tanks along the all-weather road, as well as in numerous villages in the area, along with providing daily deliveries of water to these tanks. In addition, Lundin drilled six deepwater wells, repaired a further ten wells and constructed water filtration units for the benefit of local villages.


Our firm belief is that Lundin was a force for development in Sudan and did everything in its power to advocate for peace by peaceful means in the country. We actively engaged with the local population to ensure that operations were having a positive impact and contributing to improved living conditions. In the short term, our community development and humanitarian assistance made life better for thousands of people. Lundin continued to provide humanitarian assistance throughout the suspension of operations in 2001 and 2002.

When the conflict intensified, there was an increasing number of people who moved from the conflict areas to camps in local towns controlled by the Government of Sudan. Lundin’s activities focused on assisting these people and aimed to promote better health and hygiene, but more long-term efforts were also made to improve education and the general quality of life.


Lundin distributed school equipment and provided support to both buildings and teachers. Six schools were built and /or supported in various local villages, with pupils totaling 585. A permanent school was constructed in Thoan. Women were recruited to train as qualified midwives and enrolled in midwifery school. A programme to train vector control specialists and computer analysts was also initiated.


Lundin assisted extensively to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, which were particularly prevalent in the rainy season. Lundin also employed Sudanese doctors and local paramedical staff to work in local clinics and hospitals in the area. As a result, thousands of patients were treated by Lundin’s medical staff.


Lundin distributed farm tools and fishing tackle locally, as well as set up a veterinarian station in Thoan along with a number of mobile veterinarian clinics. A programme was set up to train local people in skills such as nursing, working as para-medics or para-veterinarians, and brick laying. A brick making factory employing 48 villagers was established in Thoan providing bricks for local construction, and a women’s development centre was also set up in the same town. Furthermore, a nursery garden, maintained by two locals, planted over 150 shade trees.


Following discussions with central and local authorities and the signing of the Khartoum Peace Agreement in April 1997, Lundin assessed and expected to be operating in a peaceful environment in Sudan. After the fighting between the parties that had signed the agreement erupted again, Lundin was actively engaged in promoting peace and the protection of civilians in its area of operation.

Some of these advocacy efforts were made public, but most were kept “low profile” as this was believed to be more effective. Lundin regularly made clear that our continued operation was contingent on peace being achieved by peaceful means. In all of its contacts and advocacy efforts, Lundin advocated for peace by peaceful means and did not make any requests or demands to the contrary.

In the following years, and also long after Lundin had sold its interest in Block 5A, company representatives engaged with representatives of the Government of Sudan, faction leaders, the international community, diplomats from other countries and different NGOs in order to support peace.