The History of Adar (Wuna’mom) County

Posted: July 23, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Michael Chol Tor, Juba, South Sudan

July 23, 2017 (SSB) — The Adar (Wuna’mom) County is the newly created County in Northern Upper Nile State. The Adar oilfield, also known as the Adar Yol, in the 1990s the name Yol was added by former commissioner of Northern Upper Nile County late honorable Ustaz: Chuai Deng Yol. Former Northern Upper Nile County was component or constituent of Melut, Maban and Renk as HQ. Adar (Wuna’mom) County currently is known as Adar 1&2 and it’s Block (3) of oil field production, is an oilfield situated in the Melut Basin or bowl in South Sudan estimated to contain about 276 million barrels (43,900,000 m3) of oil.

The Chevron Corporation discovered Adar (Wuna’mom) field in 1981, shortly before the start of the 2nd Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005). Soon after Chevron had suspended operations in 1984, Sudanese government troops began attacking civilian settlements in the area, burning the houses and driving the people away, and in the late 1990s, Nuer militias from Nasir helped the army in clearing away the people to make way for the roads and infrastructure of the oilfield.

President Omar Al-Bashir inaugurated the site in March 1997, and it initially produced just 5,000 barrels (790 m3) a day. Production from this oilfield, which lies close to the borders with Sudan and Ethiopia, has the potential to bring significant economic benefits to the region. However, until recently the focus has been on clearing the population away from the oilfield rather than on a longer term strategy for developing the region. China has provided a large investment in Adar oilfield of former Melut County and others in South Sudan and Sudan and has made plans to make extensive further investments.

Contextual and location, Adar (Wuna’mom) is an area east of former Melut County, which lies on the River Nile in former Upper Nile State and to the north and northeast is Maban County. The Duki area, which drains the River Yaal, flows through the villages to east direction to Chatony village, Majak, Achuar, Nyagoka, Koor Adar (Galdora), Tham-ngool, Bulij, Makher, Miyakol which it reaches just overhead to Koor Machar through Maiwut and Nasir from Duki Area of former Melut County.

The River Yaal swamps lie in a triangle north-south of the Sobat River and east of the River Nile. When flooded during the wet season, they extend for 6,500 square kilometers (2,500 sq mi). The swamps and marshes are fed by local rainfall and by many small torrents or fast-moving water from the Ethiopian foothills, which extend for 200 kilometers (120 mi) along the eastern border, and by spill water from channels of the Sobat River.

Discharge from the swamplands along the Yaal River is low except in years with exceptionally heavy rainfall. Most of the water is lost through evaporation before reaching the Nile. It has been proposed to build a canal from Koor Machar via Adar to the River Nile to increase the volume of water flowing to Northern Sudan and Egypt, which apparently could be done without major environmental impact, but political instability has prevented the project from starting.

The Chevron Corporation discovered the Adar Yol (Wuna’mom Lual Aguei) field in 1981, shortly before the start of the 2nd Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005). Four exploratory wells had flow rates that exceeded 1,500 barrels (240 m3) a day. The oil is alleged in the Yabus Formation sandstone from the Paleogene age. The field has an area of about 20 square kilometers (7.7 sq mi) but the average pay zone is only 2.9 square kilometers (1.1 sq mi).

Initially the field was estimated to hold 168 million barrels (26,700,000 m3), but Seismic data acquired in 2000 pushed that up to 276 million barrels (43,900,000 m3). Also, three small oil pools were discovered south of Adar-Yol with another 129 million barrels (20,500,000 m3).  Chevron started to pull out of Sudan in 1984 when three of its employees were killed, finally selling all of its Sudanese interests in 1992.

Development and production, Chevron suspended operations in 1984, and their concession was later divided into smaller units. In 1992 Gulf Petroleum Corporation-Sudan (GPC) was awarded the Melut Basin – Blocks 3 and 7. GPC was owned 60% by Qatar’s Gulf Petroleum Corporation, 20% by SUDAPET and 20% by a company owned by the National Islamic Front (NIF) financier Mohamed Abdullah Jar al-Nabi.

The GPC consortium was reported to have invested US$12m in developing the Adar Yol field. In October 1996 GPC began to drill and reopen Chevron’s wells and to build an all-weather road connecting Adar Yol to the garrison or barrack town of Melut.

President Omar Al-Bashir inaugurated the Adar Yol site in March 1997. At first, production was just 5,000 barrels (790 m3) a day, taken by truck to Melut TOWN and then by barge down the Nile to Khartoum for export. Although export volumes were tiny compared to the field’s potential, it was the first Sudanese crude to be exported and therefore had symbolic significance.

In March 2000 Fosters Resources, a Canadian company, signed an agreement with the government of Sudan to develop the concession or business that covered most of the Melut Basin, including the Adar Yol field, in partnership with a consortium of Arab and Sudanese companies. Fosters was forced to withdraw in May 2000 when its financial backing collapsed due to pressure from human rights groups.

The U.S. government had been highly critical of Canadian involvement in Sudan oil development and in February 2000 the U.S. Treasury announced that American persons were forbidden or outlawed to do business with the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) and Sudapet.

Petrodar was incorporated in October 2001 owned 41% by China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and 40% by Petronas of Malaysia. Petrodar implemented major upgrades to the oil development infrastructure, including 31,000-barrels (4,900 m3) a day production facilities at the Adar Yol (Wuna’mom) field, now largely cleared of its original inhabitants. In November 2005 CNCP brought the Petrodar pipeline into operation, linking Blocks 3 and 7 (Adar Yol and Paloch fields) to PORT SUDAN on the Red Sea. The pipeline has throughput of 150,000 barrels (24,000 m3) per day, and maximum capacity of 500,000 barrels per day (79,000 m3/d).

By January 2007 combined output from Blocks 3 and 7 was 165,000 with potential to reach a peak of 200,000 barrels per day (32,000 m3/d) by late 2007. By 2009, the two blocks were producing close to 240,000 barrels per day (38,000 m3/d) of Dar blend. Because this blend of crude oil is heavy and highly acidic, it fetches lower prices than benchmark crudes such as Brent or Minas.

Adar is predominantly inhabited by the Dinka People of Melut, who mainly cultivate crops and raise cattle. Many of the Dinka use riverine or riverain pastures along the east bank of the River Nile, but in dry seasons can usually find alternative pasturage along the Miyakol, Bulij, Tham’ngool, Koor Adar (Galdora) and to the west of Duki area and on the edges of the marshes. The county is well suited to cultivation of crops watered by rain.

Rapidly after Chevron had closed operations, government troops began attacking civilian settlements in the Adar (Wuna’mom) area, burning the houses and driving the people away. This resulted in many deaths.  In the late 1990s, Nuer militias from Nasir together with Chaai (Maban) helped the army in clearing away the Dinka Melut people to make way for the roads and infrastructure of the oilfield. Aid workers were also targeted in attacks, with NGO compounds, farm supply distribution centers and primary health care centers vandalized and destroyed.

One estimate is that 12,000 people were forced to move in 1999-2000 while the all-weather road was being built between Melut, Paloch and Adar (Wuna’mom Lual Anguei). Another source said church leaders reported that government militias burned 48 villages and displaced 55,000 people in the Adar area in 2000.  According to International Relief and Development agency (IRD) director Derek Hammond, the areas around Adar contained “Fields of destroyed crops with evidence of sorghum as type of food, a handful of local people scratching around in a swamp for something to eat”.

In July 1996 the Government of Sudan attacked Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) positions at Delaal Ajak, west of the River Nile. Their goal was to secure passage for barge shipments of oil from Adar-1 (Wuna’mom) field. In November 1996, SPLA leader late Dr. John Garang gave warning that his forces would attack Adar Yol (Wuna’mom) oil field. In June 1998 the SPLA captured the town of Ulu in Blue Nile, close to the Adar Yol field, and in March 1999 the SPLA 13th battalion defeated a government brigade at the town. With this victory, the Adar Yol oilfield was within range of the SPLA’s artillery.

In April 2001 a Russian-made Antonov airplane broke in two after it skidded off the runway at Adar Yol or Adar (1) (Wuna’mom), apparently due to a sandstorm. The crash killed Sudan’s deputy defense minister, Colonel Ibrahim Shamsadiin, and 13 other high-ranking officers who had been touring the southern military area. 16 people survived the crash.  A spokesman for the SPLA denied responsibility for the accident, saying they did not have forces in the area.

The Sudanese Civil War officially ended in January 2005, and the Juba Declaration of 8th January 2006 laid out the basis for unifying rival military forces in South Sudan. Gordon Kong Chuol, Deputy Commander of the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF), which had been supported by the Government of Sudan, resisted the merger. His core faction, the “Nasir Peace Force” was based in the village of Ketbek, just north of Nasir, with 75-80 fighters as of August 2006 and perhaps 300 reserve forces in the area.

His position on the border with Sudan to the north and near to the functioning Adar Yol (Wuna’mom) oilfield was sensitive. In July 2006, four busloads of SSDF recruits arrived in the area from Khartoum. In August 2006 there were reported to be 300-400 active SSDF militiamen in the Adar area.

China has provided a large investment in the Adar oilfield and others in South Sudan, as well as in oilfields in Sudan, and in the pipeline to Port Sudan. China established a consulate in Juba in September 2008 and upgraded it to an embassy in November 2010. China has made plans to make significant investments in South Sudan. A pipeline to the Kenyan port of Lamu was discussed which could provide an alternative route if Sudan chooses to close the northern pipeline. It is in China’s interest to resolve security problems, and as a major investor and customer of both countries China may have the leverage to achieve this goal.

In response to a statement published by the sons or youth of Maban (Chaai) in Al-waton Arabic newspaper on the date 20th June, 2017 and signed by Mr. Karbino Awad regarding Adar Yol (Wuna’mom), it was a fabrication or construction of the untruthful, or untrue, or fallacious or misleading history of an area itself. Mr. Karbino Awad is a goat sent into the wilderness after Jewish chief had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it.

In the 1960s Dinka Melut were residing in Adar (Wuna’mom) as an area of raise cattle and the area itself was well known Dahaar by Dinka Melut and Nyiel people in particular. According to the circumstances of the war was disseminated between Sudan Army Forces (SAF) and Anyanya 1-2, Maban people were Armed by (SAF) together with Nezah the Arab pastoralists to illuminate or darken Dinka Melut settlement and displace them from Wuna’mom (Dahaar).

In the 1960s Maban persons were Armed as an elite militias alongside Sudan Army Forces (SAF) against or contrary to Dinka Melut people as supporters as distrusted by Sudan Government on the other hand Dinka Melut kept vigilant or silence in front of Maban and Nuer militias from Nasir to1990s the late Hon. Chuai Deng Yol was appointed as Commissioner of Northern Upper Nile County by Sudan Government as intended to support or implement the Khartoum regime policies to operate Adar oilfield block 3 to enhance Sudan Government situation economically. The late Chuai Deng Yol named the area by Arabic “Daar Yol” meant Yol’s residence or his grandfather’s residence.

In the 1996 Sudan Government understood the situation while the oil operations is progressing and SPLA were nearby just 30kilometers to the west of Adar in Tham-ngool village along the River Yaal threatening oil workers, Major Thomas Biar Themi was armed by Sudan government and he was allocated with his forces (Difa’shaabi) Mujahadiin in Agoordit as strong barrack to secure the road to Melut from Adar Yol also known Adaar 1&2. Major Thomas Biar Themi, was strong Dinka elite militias to Sudan government and he mobilized Northern Upper Nile County’s people to join his forces including Maban people to protect oilfield block 3 from SPLA attackers as assumed and many Maban people joint Major Thamas Biar and they were given Army ranks by then as Difashaabi Forces (Mujahadiin).

I was in Adar (Wuna’mom) as pupil of class four in Yasir Primary School and colleague Mr. Deng Buny Deng Duop the newly appoint Commissioner of Adar (Wuna’mom) County as pupil too of class two. In the 1996 -98 Uncle Chol Kon, was appointed as Chief of traditional law court in Adar Yol means Adar (Wuna’mom) originally or in the beginning is belong to Dinka Melut people.

As it has been stated in a statement that was published on 20th June, 2017 that Yal is a small River from Ban Gutta or Pan Gutta is totally a falsehood, or misinterpretation, or fairytale from Maban people or so called youth, in Ban Gutta there is no Yaal in Maban since they were created by God it’s an small inanition that stored flooded water from Blue Nile to Maban. Maban Youth are drunken with greedy or gluttonous spirits or morale of shallow minded.

Finally, I would like to appreciate the Council of States House, National government and government of Northern Upper Nile State for their sensible and positive step of newly created County, Adar (Wuna’mom). Melut Community is a peaceful community and will remain or keep on peaceful with those who love peace and stability in the country. Only culprits, wrongdoers, and land gravers are zero tolerance if are found.

 The writer can be reached through Email:

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. Yousif Dina says:

    Finally south Sudan people arrive to test the heart of the lion to see strong Maban son


    • MYA says:

      This Dinka Melut are such a liars what false information you guys are providing to people? Seriously, whoever is Author please go back re-evaluate some of the points you are talking about, you can’t put on internet wrong information so people can read it and give Dinka Melut Adar which is Kumbi Heki in mabaan tongue, I was born in Adar and Raised in Adar where was Dinka Melut during that time? But yes Chellenge are accepted if Dinka Melut real want to take the land that was give to mabaan people


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