Talisman has been seeking to exit from the investment for some time (MEED 21:6:02). The deal with ONGC Videsh was first announced last October, but had been held up by the objections of Talisman’s partners in the venture – Malaysia’s Petronas, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)and state-owned Sudapet. They had threatened to exercise their right of first refusal on the sale. The government also raised concerns, not wanting the existing foreign stakeholders to increase their respective shares. Sudapet did not wish to purchase the 25 per cent holding.

At the signing ceremony, Sudanese Energy Minister Awad al-Jaz declared his satisfaction with the sale. Talisman expressed regret about exiting Sudan, but admitted that it had been under heavy pressure from the US and human rights groups to do so. Washington had threatened to exclude the company from US financial markets, claiming that the Khartoum government used oil revenues to prosecute the civil war against southern rebels. ‘It has been very difficult for us to operate [in Sudan],’ said Talisman chief executive Jim Buckee at the signing of the deal. ‘In the event of the signing a peace agreement, we will come back to Sudan.’ Peace talks to end the civil war are currently taking place in Kenya.