Greater Nile Oil Pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Greater Nile Oil Pipeline is an operating oil pipeline in Sudan.[1]


The pipeline runs from the Unity oil field in South Sudan to Port Sudan in Sudan.

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Pipeline details

  • Operator: China National Petroleum Corporation[2]
  • Owner: Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC)[2]
  • Parent company: PipeChina (40%), Petronas (30%), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC, 25%), Sudapet (5%)[1]
  • Capacity: 250,000 bpd
  • Length: 1,600 km
  • Oil source: Heglig Oil Field, Sudan and Unity Oil Field, South Sudan
  • Status: Operating
  • Start year: 1999


The pipeline was constructed by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (since renamed Greater Pioneer Operating Company) and commenced operation in 1999.[3] It is operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) which is a 40% stakeholder in GNPOC.[2]

Initially, the pipeline began at the Heglig oil field in South Kurdufan state in Sudan.[3] Since 1999, the pipeline has been extended and it now begins in the Unity oil field in South Sudan. The pipeline extends to the Port Sudan crude oil refinery on the Red Sea, via the Nuba Mountains and Khartoum.[4]

Ownership Change

As part of the original contract agreement between Khartoum and its Chinese and Malaysian partners, Sudan would acquire full ownership of the pipeline in 2016.[5] Little would change in the day-to-day operations of the pipeline, except for some added revenue for the government of Sudan via fees. Most exploration and expansion projects in the future still rest with foreign companies. However, it may be used as increased political leverage in the future against South Sudan as it has been done in the past.[6] In October 2020 ownership of the pipeline was transferred from CNPC to PipeChina.[7]

Oil and Conflict

90% of South Sudan's economy is based in oil. Before the conflict, South Sudan was producing 250,000 barrels of oil; since the conflict erupted in 2013, production has fallen to 130,000 barrels of oil per day. The civil war, coupled with low global prices for oil, have crippled the country's economy, leading the nation to seek out more exploration opportunities and alternative pipelines with neighboring countries. Inflation currently stands at 500% and its GDP was forecast to shrink by 6.1% in 2017.[8]


In 2012, fighting between South Sudanese forces and Northern Sudan damaged the pipeline at Heglig, causing it to leak unknown volumes of oil. According to officials, explosives were the cause of the damage to the pipeline. Northern Sudanese officials blamed South Sudanese forces who occupied the area for 10 days before departing the site. Strategic oil zones had been contentious sites of conflict between North and South Sudan shortly after South Sudan declared independence.[9]

In September and November 2019, the pipeline again ruptured two more times, spilling thousands of barrels in Northern Liech State. The first leak went on for two weeks before Greater Pioneer Operating Company was able to fix it. South Sudan's oil minister stated that the leaks occurred because the pipeline had not been used for some time, and thus had filled with water in some places, causing corrosion. The minister stated that the first leak occurred in a remote area where there were no settlements.[10] In November, the South Sudanese Health Minister reiterated this claim about the second, stating that "the people who are staying there are oil company staff. There is no community there, they are very far." However, news media spoke with regional lawmakers and local villagers who said thousands of local residents were affected, with many being forced to relocate. A local government official stated that "the leakage has stopped, but the impact is so big. It is drying trees, killing cattle, and poisoning people, and the water is falling into the Nile."[10][11]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Greater Nile Oil Pipeline, Wikipedia, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Anon 2005, 'Focus on diplomacy and Sudan', APS Diplomat News Service, 15 August. Retrieved on 6 March 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 AP 1999, 'Sudan inaugurates oil pipeline', Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, 19 July. Retrieved on 5 March 2008.
  4. USAID 2001, 'Sudan: Oil and gas concession holders' (map), University of Texas Library. Retrieved on 5 March 2008.
  5. Sudan to assume full ownership of oil pipelines by end of 2016: minister, Sudan Tribune, June 9, 2014
  6. Sudan's ownership of pipeline will have little impact, The Economist, June 19, 2014
  7. 重磅:国家管网正式运营!,, Oct. 9, 2020
  8. Africa Energy: War-torn South Sudan on a Charm Offensive,, accessed September 2017
  9. Ian Timberlake, Oil pours from Sudan's damaged pipeline, Modern Ghana, April 24, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 Winnie Cirino, After 2 Weeks, South Sudan Oil Leak Contained, VOA, 7 Oct. 2019.
  11. Lasuba Memo, South Sudan Villagers Relocated After Oil Leak, VOA, 14 Nov. 2019.

Related articles

External resources

External articles

Wim Zwijnenburg, Black Gold Burning: In Search Of South Sudan’s Oil Pollution, Bellingcat, 23 Jan. 2020.

Wikipedia also has an article on Greater Nile Oil Pipeline. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.