Home | News    Monday 21 February 2005

Sudan oil minister: No central government deal with White Nile Ltd

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Awad Al Jaz

DUBAI, Feb 21, 2005 (Dow Jones) — Sudan’s Oil Minister Awad al-Jaz said Monday that the central government hasn’t signed an exploration deal with London-listed White Nile Ltd. (WNL.LN), a speculative oil and mining stock whose shares rose 13-fold in value last week on news of a Sudanese oil deal before being suspended.

White Nile refused to comment.

The minister told Dow Jones Newswires that foreign companies have to sign all concession agreements with the oil ministry in Khartoum, despite January’s peace deal with southern rebels that ended decades of bloody civil war, which will soon see a regional government in the south with significant autonomy.

"If you look at the agreement, the only place to go for a concession is the oil ministry," the minister said.

But an official with the former southern rebel movement, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, said the south’s regional government can negotiate its own oil deals with foreign companies.

"Of course we can negotiate for these deals," said the SPLM official, speaking from Nairobi, Kenya. He wasn’t aware of any deal with White Nile.

White Nile, listed on London’s AIM, said on Feb. 16 that it had an agreement with the government of South Sudan, through its national oil company Nile Petroleum Company Ltd, to acquire a 60% stake in Block Ba in the Muglad basin of South Sudan.

White Nile’s shares were suspended at 138.5 pence.

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