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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

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings¬†

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.

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