Geopolitik Energi

April 25, 2007

OIL HOPES HINGE ON NORTH SOMALIA

Somali Movements

Regional connoisseurs pick out northern Somalia as particularly prospective. Exploration here dates from the turn of the century and was conducted in the former colony of British Somaliland and was conducted by British and Italian geologists. The area rewarded explorers with numerous oil seeps and gas shows in wells drilled in the 1960s. It is geologically analogous, in parts, to southern Yemen, on the other side of the Gulf of Aden, and almost the entire area was under licence to companies by the time hostilities with the central government broke out in 1988.

All of the oil companies operating in the area at the time - Amoco, Chevron, Agip and Conoco - declared force majeure, but the separatist rebel group, the SNM, maintained contact with them. The companies' view, expressed privately, was that if a separate northern Somali state could provide the usual internationally-acceptable contract conditions, then, in principle, they would be prepared to resume work when it was safe.

The "Republic of Somaliland" corresponds " to the last mile" to the territory of British Somaliland, SNM spokesmen say. But this boundary cuts through permits held by Agip and Conoco. Currently under the control of the SNM the area is reportedly enjoying a degree of peace unheard of since the beginning of deposed president Siyad Barre's rule more than 20 years ago. The core of the peace is a deal struck between the mainly Isaaq clan of SNM and minority Warsengeli, Dulbahante and Gadabursi clans.

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