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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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.