Natural resources, energy and environment
Oil and gold are Sudan's most important
natural resources. The importance of gold mining for the
economy has increased as the country's income from oil
exports has declined. Electricity is mainly extracted
Between the turn of the millennium and the country's
division in July 2011, Sudan was one of Africa's largest
oil countries and the country's economy was largely
based on oil revenues. When the country split into a
northern and a southern part, three of four oil sources
attacked the new state of South Sudan. Oil is still an
important natural resource for the new, smaller Sudan,
but when the country was forced to search for new
income, increased gold mining quickly became
Major exports by Sudan with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Sudan's oil deposits have been known since the 1920s,
but only in 1999 did commercial extraction begin. During
the last three or four years before the division, about
500,000 barrels of oil were produced per day. The
country was then Africa's sixth largest oil producer
(after Nigeria, Algeria, Libya, Angola and Egypt). At
the split, the extraction rate dropped to approximately
120,000 barrels per day. Nowadays, oil accounts for 12
percent of export earnings.
The well-known oil resources in today's Sudan are
found mainly in the southwest and middle parts of the
country. In 2008, then-President al-Bashir confirmed
long-standing rumors that oil was also found in the
conflict-ravaged Darfur in the west. Attempts are made
to find oil in the area around Kurdufan in the south.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, SU stands for Sudan.
Since the 1990s, foreign companies have been
competing to map and exploit Sudanese oil resources.
However, a few years after the start of the extraction,
Western companies, such as Canadian Talisman Energy and
Swedish Lundin Oil / Lundin Petroleum, decreased their
operations in Sudan, due to reports that the government
has displaced local people near oil wells. The Western
companies took the place of Asian companies such as
Indian ONGC, Malaysian Petronas and Chinese CNPC.
Nowadays, oil companies from all over the world, such as
Arab countries, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria and Australia,
operate in Sudan.
The gold mining provides new income
Two oil pipelines run from southern Sudan to the port
city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea in the northeast.
There are the country's refineries. South Sudan also has
to use these lines to export its oil, and the
neighboring country pays fees to Sudan to get permission
to do so. The distribution and transport of the oil in
the south is still subject to conflict between the two
Natural gas deposits are on the Red Sea, but
extraction is limited. In the mountains on the coast,
gold has been mined since the time of the Pharaohs.
Chromium breaks near the Ethiopian border. Otherwise,
not much of the minerals found in Sudan are extracted.
This includes, for example, uranium, which is found in
In 2012, a gold refinery was inaugurated in Khartoum,
described as one of the largest of its kind in Africa.
The investment was part of the government's attempt to
broaden the economy after the fall in oil revenues.
Gold's share of export earnings increased from 1 percent
in 2008 to 40 percent in 2012. Sudan is now one of the
world's largest gold producers. A number of foreign
companies are active in gold mining.
Disputes around the dam building
The energy consumed in Sudan is extracted to
two-thirds from hydropower while around one-quarter
comes from oil. About three quarters of the electricity
generated in the country comes from hydropower. The rest
is generated in gas-fired thermal power plants. The
electricity is mainly produced for the area around the
The largest hydroelectric power plants are located in
the Blue Nile and the River Atbara, but sludge in the
water contributes to frequent power outages. The
Rosaries dam, near the border with Ethiopia, was until
2009 the most important source of hydropower in Sudan.
That year, the Merowe Dam, 25 miles north of Khartoum,
was inaugurated, which nearly doubled Sudanese
electricity generation. Nevertheless, there is a
shortage of electricity in the country. Since spring
2020, the electricity grid in northern Sudan has been
linked to the electricity grid in Egypt, which exports
In 2011, Ethiopia began construction of the Great
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (formerly called the
Millennium Dam) on the Blue Nile, not far from the
border with Sudan. The dam is one of the largest in
Africa. The construction project has caused concern in
Egypt and Sudan, both of which depend on the Nile for
their water supply. Negotiations are ongoing between the
three countries to find a solution to the conflict.
The dam construction in the Nile in the north has
also aroused protests among residents whose land areas
are submerged. The Merowe project forced more than
50,000 people to leave their homes. In some cases, the
local population is reported to have been forcibly
expelled and relocated to areas with poorer soil and
Warnings have also been issued about serious
environmental threats in the oil recovery track,
including the release of toxic heavy metals.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
375 kilos of oil equivalent (2013)
Electricity consumption per person
159 kilowatt hours, kWh (2013)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
15 365,000 tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.3 ton (2013)
The share of energy from renewable sources
61.6 percent (2015)
Disputes in the dispute over Abyei
Negotiations on the terms of a local referendum in Abyei beaches.
Al-Bashir is accused of genocide
The ICC issues a new arrest warrant for President al-Bashir, who is now also
charged with genocide.
Concern about the country's division
The Khartoum government justifies the intervention in Abyei by the presence
of the southern troops there in violation of the peace agreement. South Sudan's
President Salva Kiir says he does not intend to lead his people to war again
despite the intrusion of the north side into Abyei.
New battles erupt in Abyei
When new battles erupt in Abyei, assessors interpret them as an attempt to
change the population structure of the area ahead of the planned local
referendum on whether Abyei should belong to northern or southern Sudan.
Rebel leader in The Hague
Two Sudanese rebel leaders volunteer in The Hague, where they are accused by
the ICC of war crimes.
The north side goes into Abyei
After another period of on-screen mutiny, regular troops from the north side
enter Abyei and drive SPLM's soldiers on retreat to the south of the recognized
border. The invasion is met with strong protests from the government of South
Sudan, as well as from the UN and a number of Western countries.
Sudan is notified by the ICC
The International Criminal Court reports the Sudanese government to the UN
Security Council for refusing to cooperate. The ICC has requested the Sudanese
state to extradite a former minister and a militia leader accused of war crimes
Abyei's borders are being redrawn
The boundaries of the disputed oil district begin to be marked out in
accordance with the arbitration the year before (see July 2009).
The election receives serious criticism
The UN describes the election arrangements as one of the most complicated
that has ever occurred. The US-based human rights organization Human Rights
Watch describes harassment, demonstration bans and other human rights violations
that authorities have committed in both northern and southern Sudan.
Roll victory for NCP and SPLM
After delays, hassles with voting lengths and reports of cheating and
harassment, a number of general choices are made. President al-Bashir is
re-elected with 68 percent of the vote. SPLM's presidential candidate Yasir
Arman, a secular Muslim who leads the party's northern branch, gets 22 percent
despite withdrawing his candidacy after suspicions of planned cheating. The
presidential election in southern Sudan is won by SPLM candidate Salva Kiir
Mayardiit, with 93 percent of the vote. At the same time, elections are being
held to the federal parliament and to southern Sudan's regional parliament as
well as governor elections throughout the country. In the north, NCP's dominance
is total and in the south almost all places go to SPLM. In the new federal
government, the NCP receives 24 ministerial posts and SPLM 8.
Peace agreement with JEM
The Khartoum government makes peace with the JEM guerrillas, but the
agreement is threatened by continued fighting between the government side and
minor rebel movements.
The ICC lays charges against rebel leaders
In the absence of evidence, the International Criminal Court ICC in The Hague
is laying charges against the rebel leader suspected of murdering ten AU
soldiers in Darfur 2007.
President "accepts sharing"
Al-Bashir says he will accept the result of a referendum in South Sudan, even
if it means dividing Sudan.