Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lundin Oil, Swedish bad boy

Two Swedish journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, are facing long prison sentences in Ethiopia. They were caught 1 July 2011 together with members of the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) guerrilla. But what were they doing in Ethiopia? In a letter to a friend they say they were investigating the Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum business in the Ogaden Province. Lundin Petroleum used to be involved i a project to find Natural Gas and most likely they are working closely with the government. Today Lundin Oil is no longer present in the area, but Africa Oil is and they are part of the Lundin Petroleum business group. In Sweden Africa Oil is recommended by financial experts (E24, Privata Affärer) to be a good company to invest money into. Money is always money, blood money or not.

Lundin Petroleum (previously Lundin Oil) has been involved in many shady projects around the world. In Sudan they have been accused to be part in the genocide in the area. Not actively of course, but they have been working together with groups that were involved in the civil wars. Anyway, Lundin Petroleum was last year investigated by the Swedish court if the were involved in crimes against humanity.

Mohammed Hussein has written an article on the Swedish Newsmill. His theory is the the Ethiopian government want to cover up all evidence regarding crimes against humanity and genocide in the area. A New York Times journalist, Geffrey Gettleman, wrote an article about Ogaden in 2007. Here is a video from his visit in the area.

Even so, the State Department, the European Parliament and many human rights groups, mostly outside Ethiopia, have cited thousands of cases of torture, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings — enough to raise questions in Congress about American support of the Ethiopian government.

“This is a country that is abusing its own people and has no respect for democracy,” said Representative Donald M. Payne, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and global health.

“We’ve not only looked the other way but we’ve pushed them to intrude in other sovereign nations,” he added, referring to the satellite images and other strategic help the American military gave Ethiopia in December, when thousands of Ethiopian troops poured into Somalia and overthrew the Islamist leadership.

The violence in areas like Ogaden risk to turn the locals to more radical groups with connections to Islamist terrorist organisations. This is the official reason to why USA is working together with the Ethiopian government. But maybe this campaign is what causing the Islamist groups to grow? The real reasons behind the US involvement might not only be to stop terror, but also to get access to the oil? In Sweden a lot of people accuse USA to focus their military campaigns in regions where there are money to be made on natural resources. But maybe Sweden is not much better than USA?

The journalists were writing a report that were going to be published in Swedish papers. The Magazine "Filter" was maybe one potential client, but refuses to acknowledge this. Mattias Göransson, the publisher of "Filter" say that they were contacted by the journalists before they went to Ethiopia, but warned them against travelling there since the risks simply were to big.

The Committee to Protect Journalists does not think he Swedish journalists will face a fair trial. Without diplomatic help from Sweden they will be sent to prison, guilty or not.

However, the Swedish foreign ministry are not doing very much in the case to free the journalists. It just so happens that the Swedish minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Carl Bildt, previously was a member of the board in Lundin Oil between 2000-2006! Maybe this is one reason to why the Swedish diplomats are using their world famous "silent" diplomacy. In this case very silent. If there are questions raised regarding how Lundin Petroleum act in he area, this might very well be sensitive to the Swedish government since Mr Bildt was part of the board when Lundin Petroleum was active in Ethiopia. There are many questions in his case and very few answers.

P.S: There is another very similar case. The swedish/eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak has been in a Eritrean prison for 3643 days and counting. Lundin Oil also have interests in Eritrea and the Swedish department of foreign affairs does not do very much to free Dawit. "Silent diplomacy" again according to their press releases. Just a coincidence? More questions and no answers...

Read more: The Swedish journalist Kerstin Lundell received the Swedish press award "The Golden Shovel" in 2010 for her book "Affärer i blod och olja" (business in blood and oil) about Lundin Oil.

HD, ETC, SvD1, SvD2, SvD3, Fokus, DN1, DN2, DN3


  1. Very thoughtful and deep analyze! Lundin Petroleum is a very interesting company and its ties to countries where there are a lack of democracy is very interesting.

    How come a lot of Swedish anti-war movements focus on the export of weapons to democracies, such as the Czech Republic and South Africa, and say nothing about Swedish companies profiting from crimes against humanity?

  2. Just a correction: Dawit is Swedish/Eritrean - not Swedish Ethiopian (even if Eritrea was occupied by Ethiopia when he was born).

  3. @Johan: Thank You. I will correct this!