THE TRAGEDY OF PLENTY, WHY THERE IS CONFLICT IN OIL PRODUCING COUNTRIES

 

A CASE STUDY OF SOUTH SUDAN 

 _____________________

A Research Proposal

Presented to the College of Oil and Gas,

Research of Uganda Christian University

Kampala, Uganda

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In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree

Of Oil and Gas Management

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By:

MALEK COOK-DWACH

REG No: J15B44/008

 

JULY, 2016

 ABSTRACT

South Sudan is one of the countries in Africa that is blessed with a lot of oil reserves. Like in many African countries, oil is a blessing and it can be used in developing the nation as well as prosper the population. Ironically, the presence of oil in South Sudan has become a tragedy which has led to conflicts for a long time. This has therefore created the basis for this study. The study therefore seeks to get an answer as to why there are conflicts in South Sudan which is an oil producing country. The main cause of the conflict is seen to be the struggle to control the oil-producing areas. In addition, there is notable rebellion against marginalization which in most cases has led to the fight for winning oil resources that will be used by the communities. In this study, there will be discussion of the conflicts as well as the causes of it and the impacts to a larger extend. The study will mainly collect information through 17 interviews and 4 focused group discussions from two communities in the country. The findings of the study will hence indicate that most of the conflicts mainly arise as a result of unequal treatments that they receive especially in the extension of infrastructure and the benefits that accrue from the oil exploration. In addition, many conflicts are seen due to the competitions for controlling the oil fields. It will be further noted that the unfair sharing of revenues, scarce job opportunities and the dilapidated social amenities result in the conflicts.

CHAPTER ONE

  • Introduction

The most notable challenge that many resource rich countries face is the ability to handle the resource revenues that mainly benefit the citizens. South Sudan is no exception to this aspect. The natural resources especially oil in this case have been seen to transform lives of many people in the different nations that have oil hence poverty is transformed overnight into richness. Despite the great transformation that can be realised as a result of oil exploration, the commodity has turned out to be a curse in itself because it has led to many conflicts in the country. These conflicts have hence led to social and economic hardships. Norway can be given as an example in that it was a relatively poor country that changed dramatically because of the transparent and prudent management of oil resources. These steps have led to better economic times as well as social well-being. This is totally different from South Sudan and other similar countries which are mainly characterised by abject poverty, illiteracy, diseases, as well as lack of social amenities like educational facilities and medical amenities. This can be witnessed in the low scores that the country has as per the United Nation’s Human Development Index.

If managed correctly and effectively, the oil resource can be very helpful in developing the country in general through speeding up of economic growth and development. There are many chances of the country producing oil that will be helpful through exportation as well as for domestic purposes. It is also seen that the regions that produce the oil are badly hit by the conflicts and the very minimal development as well as occupation of the neighbouring regions. In most cases, there are many factors that hamper the development and they may be the reason as to why the conflicts are witnesses. These factors include: bad governance, unaccountable leadership, mismanagement of resources, and chronic corruption among the political elite, poverty and external power meddling in its internal affairs. The collections of all these factors have greatly led to discontent hence the conflicts that are being experienced.

1.1 Statement of the problem

The study seeks to focus on the reasons that have led to the conflicts being experienced in South Sudan which is an oil producing country. It also tries to highlight the various remedies that are available so that a solution can be reached at in trying to stop the conflicts that surround oil exploration in the country. As outlined above, it is notable that the conflicts experienced in the country have been caused by the competition for the oil because it has many opportunities that lead to development of the regions. This issue however has relations with some countries that also experience conflicts because of the resource and they include Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.

In most cases, there are attempts to settle the conflicts due to dialogue but the attempts do not bear fruit. Some of the grievances are usually because of the atrocities that may have been committed by the inhabitants of the oil producing regions hence it becomes difficult to stop the conflicts. It is however alarming to note that there is very little development in terms of infrastructural development as well as the economy. This has greatly led to the economic downfalls that are related to abject poverty and diseases mainly.

1.2 Objectives of the study

The study aims to contribute to the knowledge as well as the understanding of the oil resources conflicts in South Sudan especially in the regions that the oil is located. In this study, there is the use of structural violence or structural conflict theory so that there is an understanding of oil resource conflicts. Varying knowledge, explanations and definitions such as petro-violence, petro businesses have been used to characterise oil resource conflicts in the study.

1.2.1 Major objective

  1. To establish the socio-economic conditions and violent conflicts and the influence of oil resources in South Sudan
  2. To understand how leadership and power struggles are fuelled by the oil resources
  • To explore the relationship between oil exploration and the oil managing factors in their contribution to violent conflicts in South Sudan.

1.2.2 Specific objective

The specific objective in this study is to mainly look at the reasons that cause conflicts in the oil producing country- South Sudan

1.3 Research questions or hypothesis

The study, within the context of the raised issues, poses a major question for this research

Why is Oil production the main cause of Conflicts in South Sudan? In addressing this issue, the following sub-questions are also posed.

  1. To what extent have oil resources influenced the nature of politics, leadership and power struggles in South Sudan?
  2. What are the effects of oil resources on the socio-economic conditions of the communities in South Sudan especially I the oil producing regions. in addition, to what extent have the oil resources contributed to culture of greed and militancy as well as grievance in the country
  • How has the style of management of oil resources, socio-economic opportunities and interests of oil communities by the State of South Sudan contributed to the violent conflicts in the country?

1.4 Structure of the study

This work outlines research on violent conflicts in South Sudan. The first chapter contains the introduction and background to the study, which offers an overall view of the research, providing an explanation of the research variables. The chapter also contains a statement of the problem and the research questions, research objectives, scope of the research, justification of the research and structure of the research. The second chapter presents a literature review and the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that will guide the study. The objectives of the chapter include identifying existing gaps in the literature on violent conflicts. The key argument of the chapter revolves around the structures and paradoxes presented by the presence of oil resources and oil-fuelled conflicts. The chapter adopts a micro-level analysis in carrying out the review, instead of the kind of macro level perspective that is mainly state-centric. 9 Chapter Three explains the theoretical framework of the analysis used for the study. The framework was built on structural conflict theory, drawing support from environmental scarcity theory and greed vs. grievance theory. Chapter Four explains the research methodology. The study uses single case study approach and the use of qualitative data collection methods which include in-depth, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion (FGDs), and documentary analysis. Chapter Five reviews the background to the South Sudan’s political economy of oil. The chapter shows the evolution of the oil economy in South Sudan and especially examines the socioeconomic and political effects of oil resources on oil village communities

The author can be reached at malekcook75@gmail.com

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