Sudan's energy sources range from fossil fuels, hydropower, renewable energy and uranium. Yet 92 % of the energy consumed in Sudan is from fossil fuels and oil in particular, while the remaining 8 % comes from hydroelectric power.
The petroleum industry is considered one of the most prominent sources of air pollution. From the gas emissions of oil exploration and production, to the leakage during the process of transferring and distribution to the oil refineries; these processes play a great role in emitting the most dangerous greenhouse gases. In addition, there are the emissions originating from the consumption of oil and natural gas derivatives.
In 1978, the first oil well was discovered in Sudan, propelling Sudan to become one of the oil producing countries. Consequently, several oil refineries were established; the most important one being The Khartoum Refinery, which was built in 1997 and started production in 2000 with a capacity of 50,000 barrels/day. In 2006, an expansion was conducted to increase production to 90,000 barrels/day.
There is no doubt that the secession of South Sudan in 2011 led to a significant decrease in oil production. However, after the lifting of the US sanctions in 2017, Sudan signed new agreements for oil production at the beginning of this year. It also agreed with the State of South Sudan to start reopening oil wells that were closed due to the civil war in 2013. In accordance with these new agreements, the Sudanese government decided to undertake the expansion of the Khartoum refinery for a second time to reach a production capacity of 150,000 barrels per day. This evidence is enough to show that investments in Sudan are not directed towards reducing harmful emissions any time soon.
Oil refineries breakdown crude oil from primary components and convert it into consumable products such as gasoline, coal, jet fuel and many other products. The problem lies in the fact that after the dismantling process, some components that are difficult to disassemble remain. They are eliminated by burning into the atmosphere, which produces carbon dioxide, CO, N2O, SO2, and H2S. The burning of these compounds is the greatest contaminant resulting from the oil refining process. New standards and solutions have been introduced to prevent this pollution from happening. Sometimes the level of pollution even leads to the closing of existing refineries because of pollution, gas and carbon emissions. However in the case of the Khartoum refinery, no measures have been taken to prevent the burning of these components. High costs were claimed to be the reason for that, with no considerations given to the risks resulting from this environmental disaster in the form of serious and chronic diseases. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides are among the major greenhouse gases produce by refineries.
The economic value and profit of oil refineries is very high, but making refineries more efficient requires a lot of effort and dollar investment. In addition, the establishment of another oil refinery would double the emission of these gases into the atmosphere. It will also affect the increasing of temperature levels, beyond the limits that should not be exceeded in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Sudan is one of the least polluting countries, but has historically been placed among the countries most affected by global warming. The war in Darfur, often cited as driven by drought in 1984, only six years after the discovery of oil, was classified as the first climate war in the world. The situation has worsened ever since. It started with a marked variation in rainfall rates, rapid desertification of about 100 km in just forty years, and declining in forest cover to make up only 10% of the country's total area. What is even worse is that the average temperature is expected to rise a degree and a half by 2060.
In my opinion, we must stop funding projects that threaten both humans and the environment. Sudan with its current crisis will not only be a playground for wars caused by climate change, but also a lifeless place and Sudanese communities will be a distant memory.
· Climate Wars by Harld Welzer