Sudan Energy and Environment Facts

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 from hydropower.

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 significant.

  • COUNTRYAAH: 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. Visit itypeusa for more information about 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 neighboring countries.

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 the west.

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 capital Khartoum.

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 electricity.

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 pastures.

Warnings have also been issued about serious environmental threats in the oil recovery track, including the release of toxic heavy metals.


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 in Darfur.


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.

Sudan Energy and Environment Facts

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