Petronas has also strengthened its local presence, signing an exploration and production sharing agreement for onshore block 8, located in the Blue Nile Basin, nearly a year after talks with Rompetrol of Romania ended without agreement and the concession was put back onto the market. More than 10 companies submitted bids for the block in late May. Petronas, with a 77 per cent stake, will jointly operate block 8 with state-owned Sudapet, which has a 15 per cent interest. The remaining 8 per cent stake is held by the local High Tech Group(MEED 29:8:03).

Several other Asian oil companies are also making in-roads in Sudan. The government on 28 August signed two contracts with the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) to build the country’s second major oil pipeline and to expand capacity at the 58,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) Khartoum refinery, a 50:50 joint venture between CNPC and the government. The new 200,000-b/d pipeline will connect the refinery to the main oil-producing region around Al-Fula, 730 kilometres southwest of the capital. Under the terms of the contract, the refinery is to be expanded to 100,000 b/d at an estimated cost of $340 million.

Zaver Petroleumof Pakistan has also been awarded a three-year exploration contract for a 750,000-square-kilometre concession which covers block 9 in the state of Khartoum and parts of the Nile Valley, Al-Gezira, Northern Kordofan and White Nile states.