Khartoum protests Cairo offering hydrocarbon exploration blocks in Red Sea areas

Sudan has summoned Egypt’s ambassador to Khartoum to protest Cairo’s “illegal” call for oil and gas exploration bids in the Red Sea area of Halayeb, claimed by both countries.

In a statement on Thursday, Sudan’s foreign ministry said it summoned Hossam Eissa over “tenders invited by the Egyptian oil ministry for areas under the sovereignty of Sudan”.

“Sudan is asking Egypt to stop all procedures concerning the tenders given the situation about the Halayeb triangle.”

It also warned oil and gas exploration companies against submitting any bids.

Egypt’s South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Co has offered 10 oil and gas exploration blocks in the Red Sea for sale through a tender on March 10, with bids due to close on August 1.

The Halayeb triangle, which is controlled by Egypt, has been claimed by Sudan since the 1950s. Cairo says it is Egyptian territory and it has long been a source of contention between the two neighbours.

Badreddin Abdullah, undersecretary at the Sudanese foreign ministry, expressed Khartoum’s protest at the offer and called on Egypt “not to proceed in this direction that contradicts the legal status of the Halayeb triangle”, the ministry said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Saad al-Deen Hussein al-Bishri, minister of state at Khartoum’s Oil Ministry, said the move was “a direct intrusion” onto his ministry’s authority to grant exploration licenses in the area.