Chinese oil workers employed by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Sinopec have fled the war-torn Sudan amid continued armed clashes in the African country.

As of early May, the two state-owned giants have repatriated 189 workers by air or sea — 114 employed by CNPC and 75 by Sinopec, the companies said.

The Chinese government deployed at least one navy vessel in late April to rescue citizens including CNPC and Sinopec employees from conflict-hit Sudan, where fighting between the army and paramilitaries has claimed hundreds of lives.

China has deployed its navy “in order to protect the lives and property of Chinese people in Sudan”, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said, without specifying the number of vessels involve in the rescue campaign.

CNPC has also evacuated 28 workers from Block 6 in the Muglad-Sudd Rift basin, where its holds a 95% stake with Sudapet holding the remaining 5%, to safe areas in neighbouring South Sudan.

Chinese employees with CNPC’s Sudanese outfit CNPC International (Nile) in the capital Khartoum had to work and lodge at underground refuge rooms for more than a week before being evacuated.

Since 1995, CNPC has participated in exploration and development projects in Block 1/2/4, Block 3/7, Block 6, Block 15 and Block 13 in Sudan, while Sinopec’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Engineering has been providing engineering and drilling services in the sub-Saharan nation.

Recent weeks have seen armed clashes between Sudan's Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, with the two sides accusing each other of initiating the conflict.

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