(First published in Norwegian 19 April 2007)
By Erik Hagen
In the autumn of 2006 Norwatch revealed that Rolls-Royce was on the way to deliver pump systems and motors for Chinese oil industry at the doorstep to Darfur.
“We are not engaged in politics,” Public Relations Manager Arnfinn Ingjerd in Rolls-Royce Marine told Norwatch at that time.
But now Rolls-Royce has informed Reuters that they after all do not wish to continue their deliveries to the regime in Sudan.
“We will progressively discontinue our support activities,” a spokesperson for Rolls-Royce told Reuters this afternoon (19 April 2006).
“The reason for this is the difficult political and humanitarian circumstances in Sudan…. We are not in Darfur, but we are in the country,” the spokesperson said.
The Dutch-based organization European Coalition on Oil in Sudan is satisfied with the reason the company uses for withdrawing.
“It appears that they are now finally taking responsibility,” the organization’s coordinator, Egbert Wesselink, told Norwatch, which claims that the justification could well have been even better.
“It would have been even better if they had explained what kind of changes would have been necessary in Sudan before they would return,” Wesselink pointed out to Norwatch.
“It is just above ten million dollars. So it’s not very much. And our contractual partners are serious, global operators”, Public Relations Manager Arnfinn Ingjerd told Norwatch with regard to the Sudan involvement in September 2006.
At that time Norwatch wrote that the company was in the process of making a large delivery to Block 6, where the Chinese state oil company CNPC has operator responsibility. Block 6 stretches far into Darfur. Rolls-Royce Marine emphasized that the delivery was going to “the border area between Darfur and Kordofan”. Norwatch had learned about the new Norwegian deliveries through an anonymous tip from Sudan.
Public Relations Manager Ingjerd emphasized that the company had stayed within the guidelines laid down by the Norwegian authorities.
The Norwegian subsidiary has delivered a total of 70 motors to Sudan since 1998.
Norwatch sent e-mails to Rolls-Royce in September, October and November, querying whether it had also been negotiating with the Sudanese regime for deliveries to Darfur – without receiving an answer from the company.