Report 20: Part Four of Alexandre Schneiter’s defense’s opening presentation

Gavel on a dark background

This week´s proceedings saw Alexander Schneiter’s defense continue its presentation. They addressed the reorganisation within Sudan Ltd., which allegedly diminished Alexandre Schneiter´s role in the company. The defense then spent much time describing the sequence of events in Block 5A during autumn 2001, detailing how the reorganisation and environmental factors affected the company’s operations. They also addressed their position on point 9g and h of the indictment. 

Alexandre Schneiter’s reduced role in Sudan Ltd. following a reorganisation 

The defense explained that an August 2001 reorganisation of Sudan Ltd., which was subsequently implemented in September significantly altered the role and responsibilities of Alexandre Schneiter. To prove this, the defense presented an employment contract between Sudan Ltd. and Timothy Sarney from late July 2001, which showed that Timothy Sarney was appointed as Technical Manager in the local organisation in Khartoum. Additionally, they referred to an email from Ken Barker to Ian Lundin dated 27 July 2001, in which Barker accepted the position of Managing Director.  The defense explained that Ken Barker´s acceptance was conditional, leading to radical changes in Schneiter´s position and duties in August-September 2001. They presented documentation outlining Barker´s conditions, which included taking control of the budget, a role previously held by Alexandre Schneiter, and final authority in hiring decisions and the role of project coordinator. Although Schneiter retained the role of project coordinator until the end of the year, this change, according to the defense, was implemented in September. 

The defense then referred to an organisational chart from early August 2001 that depicted Ken Barker as Manager Director and Timothy Sarney as head of the technical department, reflecting the new local organisation in Khartoum. They explained that Eloi Dolivo was appointed as Head of the local subsurface department and reported to Timothy Sarney, who in turn reported to Ken Barker. The defense stated that the division of work caused controversy between Ken Barker and Alexandre Schneiter, prompting Ian Lundin to intervene in early August 2001, siding with Barker while emphasising the importance of cooperation. Citing security reports from mid-August 2001, the defense noted that Ken Barker began preparing the 2002 budget, a responsibility previously held by Schneiter, which demonstrated the significant shift in responsibilities. 

To prove the argument that the reorganisation was carried out in August 2001, the defense referred to a service agreement dated 21 August 2001 between Lundin Technical Services Ltd. and Sudan Ltd. This agreement, characterised as a consultancy agreement, stipulated that Sudan Ltd. would need to issue a service order under the terms of the agreement if they sought assistance from Alexandre Schneiter´s technical office in Geneva. The defense argued that this arrangement indicated that as of 21 August 2001, Scheniter´s office in Geneva lacked autonomy to independently initiate operations in Sudan. Instead, Alexandre Schneiter redirected his focus to other aspects of his professional scope, such as potential new concession areas. The defense also stressed that the reorganisation ultimately meant that the technical department in Geneva had no independent role in Sudan.  

The defense then referred to a document entitled “Corporate Presentation” from 7 November 2001, illustrating that Sudan Ltd.´s operations were run from Khartoum, and Ken Barker no longer reported to Alexandre Schneiter. Subsequently, they displayed three different “Delegation of Authority” documents from mid-November 2001 which showed that neither Timothy Sarney, Dr. Alam Baggi, nor Eloi Dolivo reported to Alexandre Schneiter. According to the defense, this indicated Schneiter’s diminished role in Sudan Ltd. post-restructuring and “that Alexandre Schneiter was out of the picture.”

Preparation of the 2002 work programme and budget 

On 15 September 2001, the internal proposal for the 2002 work programme and budget was finalised. While referring to a graphical illustration of the work programme, the defense highlighted the absence of specific locations for seismic activities. They noted that there was no indication of planned seismic operations over the MOK lead. The defense stated that the proposal also showed that Alexandre Schneiter was no longer included in the budget process as his name was no longer listed in the relevant documents. They stressed that Eloi Dolivo had assumed the responsibility of preparing the Exploration and Geology department, a role previously held by Schneiter. Furthermore, the defense noted that Timothy Sarney´s section in the proposal included road construction, which was important as two points of the indictment (point 9h and k) relate to road agreements, which was an area that fell outside of Alexandre Schneiter´s purview. 

The defense presented a seismic period report dated 29 September 2000, observing that the report was addressed to Eloi Dolivo rather than Alexandre Schneiter, who only was listed as a copy recipient as it was a transitional period. They asserted that the report indicated that Alexandre Schneiter was no longer involved in the seismic planning. The defense also noted that the report demonstrated that the seismic operations would commence with Lead V, situated southwest of Jarayan, distant from the MOK lead. They explained that once the drilling and seismic operations locations had been decided at the local level, a detailed programme was handed over to the security department and subsequently to the Sudanese military. Consequently, JMC meetings played no role in this procedure. The defense also contended that in October 2001 Ken Barker had an informal meeting with OEPA to discuss the 2002 work programme and budget, indicating that OEPA received the proposal around the same time as the shareholders (at the end of September 2001), well before the JMC meeting on 25 October 2001. 

The defense referred to a draft budget for a seismic survey dated 13 October 2001, noting that the prosecution had interpreted the document as referring to the MOK lead when the word MOK was used. They contended that prosecution´s literal interpretation was inaccurate as the document merely mentioned names of different areas. According to the defense, Sudan Ltd. had no plans for seismic operations over the MOK lead.  

The TCM/OCM meeting on 24 October 2001 

The defense presented the minutes and PowerPoint Presentation slides from the TCM meeting, which showed that Eloi Dolivo presented the agenda. Here, the defense noted that Alexandre Schneiter no longer organised the technical meeting, as Dolivo, following the restructuring, served as the local geology and geophysics manager. The minutes indicated that Eloi Dolivo also presented the forthcoming 2D seismic acquisition campaign, which was characterised by the defense as a local plan rather than a work programme developed by Dolivo and his colleagues. The defense then displayed associated PowerPoint Presentation slides and noted that it outlined priority areas. The defense argued that simply looking at the slide, as the prosecution had done, could suggest that there was a priority order of where to drill first. According to the defense, this was incorrect because subsequent PowerPoint Presentation slides indicated that the order depicted did not signify drilling the entire first priority and then moving on to the next, but rather a starting point in area 1, encompassing Lead V, followed by the 2D joint survey project, and finally the Adok area. It was important for the defense to highlight this because their perception was that the prosecution had argued that MOK was a priority area for the drilling operations. However, according to the defense, this was inaccurate since the drilling were to start in area 1, which did not include MOK.

Moving on to the OCM meeting, the defense argued that there was no mention of where seismic activities would be conducted, only that they would be carried out. They presented a PowerPoint Presentation slide from the meeting, which depicted three green lines over MOK Lead and green lines over other leads. However, the defense asserted that these leads were not identified as objects of activities: instead, they had been incorporated into the planning process without being considered priority areas. The defense concluded that the formal decision made by the shareholders at the OCM meeting was to conduct seismic activities, with Sudan Ltd. retaining authority to determine locations within the approved budget. Additionally, allegedly no decision was made concerning the construction of an all-weather road to MOK. 

The JMC meeting on 25 October 2001 – Point 9g of the indictment 

Before elucidating Alexandre Schneiter´s position to the charges in point 9g of the indictment, the defense explained their understanding of what occurred at the JMC meeting on 25 October 2001. They pointed out that Schneiter presented the project status overview and the outlines of the 2002 work programme. Here, the defense argued that the prosecution misconstrued this presentation as the work programme decided on in the OCM meeting, which they deemed an inaccurate interpretation. They asserted that Schneiter´s presentation merely depicted the local planning made by Eloi Dolivo and reiterated that no seismic activities were planned in the MOK area according to the description of the local planning. 

The defense then explained that Ken Barker presented the 2002 work programme and budget and addressed the changes in the work programme. They contended that the MOK lead was not included in the work programme established at the OCM meeting on October 24, nor did it specify where seismic activities would take place. Thus, OEPA, through this work programme, was only informed about the planned seismic activity but not its precise location. 

Point 9g of the indictment alleges that Ian Lundin and Alexandre Schneiter at a 25 October 2001 JMC meeting demanded that the Sudanese Government (GOS) create conditions for the company’s operations in Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK. This was done through Schneiter presenting the proposed work programme for 2001/2002, which included seismic activities, to the GOS. Prior to this, it is alleged that Alexandre Schneiter had been responsible for the preparation of this work programme proposal.

The defense refuted the claim that Alexandre Schneiter presented a proposal for the 2002 work programme and budget. They argued that the work programme presented by Schneiter was adopted in the OCM meeting on 24 October 2001. Therefore, it was an approved work programme that was presented – not a proposal. The defense further argued that it was inaccurate that Schneiter had been responsible for preparing the proposal of the work programme, as this had been done locally under Ken Barker´s leadership. According to the defense, the work programme did not include seismic activities in Nhialdiu area/area of operations MOK, and the term “MOK” did not appear in the approved work programme or budget. They maintained that Alexandre Schneiter had not made any demands at the JMC meeting, but merely presented what was required under the EPSA agreement. The defense also denied that there was a causal link between Schneiter´s actions and war crimes, reiterating the arguments made in relation to point 9e and f (see our previous reports). The defense further denied that Alexandre Schneiter had intent to promote war crimes. 

Sudan Ltd.’s operations in Block 5A in autumn 2001 

The defense explained that internal security reports from autumn 2001 indicated that operations had been delayed due to ongoing flooding, which meant that the company had to mobilise the “swamp machines.” They stated that in late October, Sudan Ltd. personnel made the decision to postpone seismic mobilisation due to the persistent flooding. The defense contended that the security reports also indicated that on 23 October, Sudan Ltd. had a meeting with the Sudanese military wherein road construction was discussed. Here, the defense highlighted that this contradicted the prosecution’s claim that a road to Nhialdiu was requested by the Sudanese military within three days after the JMC meeting (point 9h of the indictment). They asserted that the prosecution’s theory was based on the fact that OEPA, at the JMC meeting, was informed about a road to Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK and then immediately informed the Sudanese military. The defense asserted that this line of thinking was flawed for several reasons. Firstly, there was direct engagement with the Sudanese military regarding various roads the same week. Secondly, OEPA received the work programme and budget a month before the JMC meeting. Thirdly, OEPA was not associated with the Sudanese military. 

Apart from flooding, the defense explained that Sudan Ltd.´s security advisors noted unrest in Rubkona and Bentiu due to Peter Gadet´s attacks. According to the defense, Sudan Ltd., however, had no influence over the events: they were passive bystanders. Citing an early November 2001 report from EU parliamentarians who visited Block 5A, which the defense claimed should be considered neutral, they highlighted the report´s positive depiction of the area. They added that if Block 5A had been empty of civilians who were forcibly displaced, the narrative would have been different.  

The defense referred to a 15 November 2001 Rubicon security report. They explained that the report was commissioned by Sudan Ltd. in light of Peter Gadet´s attack on Heglig in August 2001.The report´s findings indicated that SPLA´s activities were distant from Block 5A, indicating that the local peace agreement was enabling operations in the area (see our previous report). It also suggested that Sudan Ltd. should build a new road next to Thar Jath. According to the defense, it was evident from the report that Sudan Ltd. had no influence over the course of events. The defense then recalled that the prosecution also had presented this report. They further contested the prosecution´s use of the same report to support the claim that a road was constructed to Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK. The defense contended that it was evident from the prosecution’s opening presentation that they were well aware that the proposed road in the report did not go to MOK and considered this to be a misleading evidentiary theme from the prosecution. 

Alexandre Schneiter’s position on point 9h of the indictment 

The defense proceeded to point 9h, which alleges that sometime between 28 October and 30 November 2001, Sudan Ltd. made a commitment to the GOS to construct and partially fund an all-weather road between the Rubkona-Thar Jath road and Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK. According to the charge, Alexandre Schneiter and Ian Lundin had previously decided that Sudan Ltd. would undertake this road construction.

The defense contended that there was no agreement between Sudan Ltd. and the GOS, either during this period nor at any other time. They further argued that Alexandre Schneiter did not decide that Sudan Ltd. would undertake construction of a road to Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK. According to the defense, this claim lacked substantiation as there was nothing in their evidence that pointed in that direction. Although acknowledging that discussions regarding a road to MOK had been held with the Sudanese military in late October 2001, the defense emphasised that Sudan Ltd. did not make any commitment to the GOS to construct such a road. To support this argument, the defense stated that neither of the two necessary decisions – approval at the shareholder level nor approval at the parent company level – had been made, which meant that Sudan Ltd. could not construct an all-weather road between the Rubkona-Thar Jath road and Nhialdiu/area of operations MOK.

Instability in Block 5A and the prospects for achieving peace 

The defense then referred to a late December 2001 incident list describing a helicopter incident. According to the defense, SSIM demanded money from the company´s guard force soldiers, leading to a brawl and gunfire. The defense emphasised that this was not a targeted attack on Sudan Ltd.´s operations, however, it forced the company to re-evaluate the security situation. Here, they also pointed out that Ken Barker was ultimately responsible for evacuation proceedings and deciding whether operations should be suspended. According to the defense, immediate efforts were made following the incident to gather information needed to assess the possibility of continuing operations. Nevertheless, all operations were cancelled in January 2002 pending a lasting peace agreement. The defense also pointed out that during this period, Alexandre Schneiter was preparing for an Atlantic sailing race. They argued that this caused him to be absent from the office in Geneva for a significant part of January to March 2002, and starting in early April he was completely gone until late May 2002. 

The defense recalled that the prosecution in its opening presentation had stated that Peter Parr switched sides by leaving the GOS in December 2001. Referring to a 30 December 2001 security report, the defense argued that it indicated that Parr had not in fact switched sides by late December. They further argued that Parr´s loyalty was pivotal for operations in Block 5A. The defense also explained that in January 2002, the SPLA and SPDF merged, creating a ripple effect that would lead to instability in Block 5A. They further argued that this was the main explanation for the fighting that would eventually take place in areas 2 and 3. The defense asserted that the instability that arose in Unity State was not attributable to Sudan Ltd. They presented an 11 February 2002 Talisman security report, arguing that it showed that the escalation of the violence was unrelated to Sudan Ltd.´s operations. Referring to three different Talisman security reports from early December 2001 to early March 2002, the defense asserted that the reports showed that Sudan Ltd. was not involved in the construction of a road to MOK. 

The defense continued to present several NGO reports. For example, they addressed the 2002 Christian Aid report “Hiding between the streams: The war on civilians in the oil regions of southern Sudan” and the 2002 ECOS report “Depopulating Sudan´s Oil Regions” and claimed that a common denominator for many NGO reports was their methodological shortcomings. To support this argument, the defense stated that there were methodological deficiencies such as reliance on anonymous interviews and absence of independent verification of allegations of human rights abuses. 

The defense also recalled that the prosecution had claimed that Alexandre Schneiter received internal security reports. The defense, however, argued that prior to 23 July 2002, Schneiter did not receive security reports and on 23-25 July 2002, he was only listed on three security reports. Furthermore, they argued that as of 28 July 2002, Schneiter was listed together with Christine Batruch as direct recipients of the daily security reports from Khartoum, but as of 2 September 2002 Ken Barker or Timothy Sarney were also listed as direct recipients. However, neither the daily security report sent from Rubkona nor the weekly summary security reports from Rubkona went to Alexandre Schneiter. 

According to the defense, during the suspension of operations, through meetings and other communications with representatives for the GOS, Sudan Ltd. continued to emphasise the company’s commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict. They contended that peace through peaceful means was an absolute condition for Sudan Ltd. to resume operations and military operations were never considered as a solution to the conflict. The defense stated that in late July 2002 a significant event took place as the the GOS and the SPLA signed Machakos Protocol. They explained that this was an agreement to restart the peace process in Sudan and was considered to be an important sign of progress by several entities, including Lundin Oil AB. The defense also referred to an early August 2002 email from Ken Barker to shareholders, in which Barker presented a very positive outlook for the future and future peace. The defense added that this demonstrated Sudan Ltd.’s strong desire for peace. 

Next report

In the next report, we will cover the final part of Alexandre Schneiter´s defense´s opening presentation. We will, among other things, report on its position on point 9k of the indictment and the operations in Block 5A until the company permanently ceased its oil operations in Sudan.