If one could be wondering why conflict in oil-rich countries never ends, this can be directly linked to the operations of oil-producing companies. At the very core of these operations is an insatiable appetite to acquire as much super-profits as possible. To continue conducting these super-profitable operations, key issues such as the consideration of human rights are conveniently and deliberately overlooked.
The United Nations has accused Asian-controlled oil companies for being complicit in the unending and vicious conflict in South Sudan. The oil companies have been involved in the offensives by the government military, offensives that often result in the deaths of civilians.
Transnational oil companies have readily sponsored the armed conflict in the country. With a link to South Sudan's government-controlled oil firm, these transnationals have totally disregarded the sanctity of life, all in the pursuit of more and more super-profits.
The United States noted that this relationship is existing so that oil companies provide "substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people."
The UN’s Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said, "There has been a lack of corporate accountability for transnational companies, several of which were conducting profitable business in oil-producing areas at times when mass human rights violations were perpetrated against the local population, and which in various ways were complicit in these crimes."
As a result of their business activities, oil companies are actually criminally liable for all the damage they cause to people's lives.
Western oil companies left the region several years ago, after complaints of human rights abuses. After that, a triad of Asian companies took over, and they have perpetuated the ills perpetrated by the Western companies.
"These companies have led the oil exploration in South Sudan from the moment it gained Independence in July 2011," the UN report noted.
The largest oil-producing consortium in South Sudan is the Dar Petroleum Operating Company, and this joint venture is owned by the "Chinese National Petroleum Company, which holds a 41 per cent share, and by Malaysia’s Petronas (40 per cent), as well as by South Sudan’s state-run Nilepet oil firm and its subsidiaries (14 per cent)."
The oil companies are really in a marriage of convenience with the the government. The UN report said that government forces and its proxies use the facilities of the companies in carrying out their [heartless] activities. The UN noted the use of air strips and road infrastructure.
"There are thousands of civilians who have been forcibly displaced following a scorched-earth policy, in which the parties to the conflict are attacking villages, torching homes, killing civilians and raping women and girls," said Andrew Clapham, a member of the UN Commission.
"If you are involved in oil extraction in that area and you are asked to assist one side or the other, you could be accused of complicity in war crimes."
People in South Sudan have not yet realized any meaningful returns from its vast oil deposits. There has been no benefit from oil for the locals. In fact, oil has only brought misery, as it is at the centre of the armed conflict.
Header image credit - The New Times