Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 11, 2002
Talisman oil sale a victory -- NGOs
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The decision of Talisman Energy Inc. to sell its controversial oil interests in war-torn Sudan is being celebrated as a victory by church and human rights organizations in Canada.
But they also point out that there is no legislation in place to prevent a similar situation from developing in the future.
The Calgary-based company announced Oct. 30 that it is selling its oil properties in Sudan to a subsidiary of India's national oil company, for $1.2 billion, ending a four-year battle with non-governmental organizations who charged that the company's revenues in Sudan were fuelling the bloody 18-year civil war.
Jim Buckee, Talisman's chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Calgary that the company's shares "have continued to be discounted based on perceived political risk in-country and in North America to a degree that was unacceptable for 12 per cent of our production."
He added, "Shareholders have told me they were tired of continually having to monitor and analyze events relating to Sudan."
"This is an enormous social victory," said Gerry Barr, president of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, whose members includes 100 Canadian non-profit organizations - the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace among them.
"Talisman has been dogged rightly by human rights organizations around the world and the impact of that controversy has been a very significant discounting of Talisman's share value," he told CCN. "There has been a price tag for Talisman for its participation in Sudan."
Joe Gunn, social affairs director for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and co-chair of Kairos, the national ecumenical coalition, agreed Talisman did the right thing by selling its Sudanese properties.
"We think we should take some sense of accomplishment in the popular movement - the trade unions, the churches, the Sudanese community in Canada," he said.
Barr agreed that the government needs a policy to prevent a similar situation in the future. "Here we have a company that went into Sudan into a zone of hot conflict against the advice of the government of Canada, contributed significantly to an intensification of the war and human rights abuse in the region. It is now able to walk away from this, selling its assets and using the profits from that sale to bolster its share price. Is that really OK with us?"