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In one of his final acts as US president, Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on 13 January authorising “expanded trade with and investment in Sudan”, as well as outlining a route to permanently revoke US sanctions on the country in July this year. Sudan’s economy is crumbling under the multiple burdens of sanctions, a falling oil price, and, crucially, the loss of oil reserves and production to the new state of South Sudan. The roadmap outlined by President Obama offers a slight hope of a reversal in the sluggish fortunes of a frontier oil sector occupied largely by minnows.