Bloodhound has/is currently investigating the following subjects:
- Lundin Oil/Petroleum in Sudan, culminating in report Justifying Blood Money
- Darfur crisis, culminating in report The Scorched Earth of Darfur
- War crimes in Africa (research stage only)
Lundin Oil/Petroleum in Sudan
The second civil war in Sudan started in 1983 shortly after commercial oil deposits were discovered near Bentiu in Southern Sudan in 1981. Some of the people of South Sudan feared that all the revenues from the oil would go only to the North of Sudan, and this was a factor behind the rebellion that quickly spread to most of the area south of the Bahr-el-Ghazal and Nile Rivers. The oil industry was quickly targeted, and in early 1984 three expatriate workers from the American oil company Chevron were kidnapped and killed by the rebels, which forced Chevron to suspend its operations. The company finally sold its Sudan licences in June 1992.
Chevron’s concession was bought by the Canadian company Arakis Energy in November 1992, which was in turn bought by Talisman Energy in August 1998.
The Swedish company Lundin Oil, formerly the International Petroleum Corporation, had bought oil concessions in the Red Sea area of Sudan in December 1991. In February 1997 the International Petroleum Corportion (later absorbed into Lundin Oil) entered into a production-sharing agreement to explore and develop the Block 5A concession in Western Upper Nile region of South Sudan. The Lundin companies immediately bought an 8% share of Arakis, enabling Lukas Lundin became a board member of Arakis later that year. Ian Lundin joined Lukas Lundin as a board member of Arakis in 1998.
Arakis Energy/Talisman Energy and Lundin Oil headed the two consortiums which explored for and developed oil production in Southern Sudan at the end of the 1990s. A pipeline was constructed to the Red Sea and oil started flowing from Talisman's concession in September 1999, which immediately doubled the Sudanese government’s income and enabled them to massively increase their military expenditure. Sudan’s rebel movements responded already in 1996 with threats to attack oil installations.
By 1999 reports had reached human rights groups of widespread atrocities against civilians living in the oilfield areas, including the forcible displacement of thousands of people to clear for oil exploration and development. These reports reached the Swedish media from 1999 to 2001, but were downplayed by the owners, managers and board members of Lundin Oil, who claimed that these abuses were not happening in their area. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who was also on the board of Lundin Oil, claimed that oil was good for development and promised to work for peace in the area. Media interest for the story then died.
Bloodhound was concerned about the lack of interest among the Swedish public and government to properly investigate the persistent reports of atrocities in the area around Lundin Oil/Petroleum’s concession. In January 2005 Bloodhound therefore approached the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) with the idea of using satellite images to confirm and quantify reports of the massive displacement of civilians in Block 5A. This was followed in August 2006 with compiled data of reported attacks on civilians in Lundin's concession, together with statements by board members and company staff. The information from these sources provided the basis for the ECOS report Unpaid Debt which was published in June 2010 and which in turn sparked an ongoing criminal investigation by the Swedish State Prosecutor for International War Crimes into the atrocities perpetrated in Lundin's oil concession Block 5A in Sudan.
In May 2013 Bloodhound published the results of an investigation of the Swedish media to understand how the oil issue had been portrayed, and how Lundin had succeeded in deflecting all criticism of its operations. The report 'Justifying Blood Money' can be downloaded from this site.
The civil war in Darfur escalated in April 2003 following a daring raid by a rebel group on the Sudanese Government Air Force base at El Fasher. This event unleashed the fury of the Government of Sudan, who responded with a systematic campaign of widespread attacks on villages in Darfur. During the course of the next two years, over 2 million people were driven off their land and forced to take refuge in camps within Darfur or across the border in Chad. Hundreds of thousands of others died, both from direct violence or from hunger and disease as a consequence of being forcibly displaced from their homes and livelihoods.
Despite the considerable scale of the scorched earth attacks on the villages of Darfur, it appears that the UN, governments and aid agencies first became aware of the crisis in September 2003 when tens of thousands of refugees started to cross the border into Chad. The refugees recounted horrific stories about what they had suffered, but it was impossible at that time to verify the extent of the attacks because the Government of Sudan denied all access to Darfur by aid workers and journalists. Limited and sporadic access to a few towns in Darfur was permitted by the Government of Sudan from December 2003, but full access to Darfur was not opened up until April 2004 after the UN Special Representative had brought international media focus on the crisis by comparing the situation to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Despite the improved access to Darfur, little was known about what had happened during the preceding year. Bloodhound therefore decided to investigate.
To start with, Bloodhound investigated the possibility of analysing existing NASA Landsat 7 satellite images of Darfur to determine the extent of burned villages. Having no funds meant that it was necessary to find another organisation to pay for the research, and Bloodhound succeeded in April 2004 to persuade the Danish office of Amnesty International to do this, though unfortunately they only committed to investigate part of Darfur rather than the whole area. This study, which is believed to be the first ever use of satellites by a non-governmental organisation to investigate human rights abuses, led to the publication of a report on the 1st July 2004. Coincidentally or not, USAID released their own map of burned villages in Darfur a week earlier.
The satellite surveys were able to locate which villages had been recently burned and to determine the proportion of the total number of villages which had been affected, but were unable to provide more information about (1) who was responsible, (2) when precisely the attacks had taken place, or (3) how many people had been killed. Bloodhound therefore decided to investigate further by compiling and analysing all available reports of atrocities and attacks on the villages of Darfur. This resulted in the Bloodhound report ‘The Scorched Earth of Darfur’, which was able to determine the timeframe and geographical extent of the attacks, as well as to provide evidence that these were centrally controlled. The report was also able to estimate the number of people who had died a violent death as a result of the attacks on the villages.