Monday, September 17, 2012
The comprehensive revision of all current oil and gas concessions in Somalia is underway according to the East African Energy Forum. The influential Somali group hinted today that the new central Somali government would revise all previous oil deals conducted in the post 1990 era.
The group also mentioned plans are underway to implement a new draft of the Somali National Oil Law that would honor contracts held by companies before the collapse of the state in 1990.
“Somalia intends to honor its previous contracts with regards to companies who were forced out due to instability pre-1990. It would be up to them if they wish to resume exploration activities in their respective concessions, though a revision of the terms and a timeline would likely be placed on their return.” says Abdillahi Mohamud, head of the Somali-based group.
He continues on saying that any hydrocarbon exploration deals in the country will likely be reassessed to ensure that they are in the national interest of Somalia and in line with the new Somali National Oil Law.
“It is not in Somalia’s interest for oil and gas exploration to continue in the country without a robust national oil law passed by parliament in the new central government. Our main concern is putting into place regulations that protect the environment, sovereignty and resource assets of the country.”
Asked if this casts doubt on the legality of oil exploration currently being conducted in the Puntland region, He indicates those agreements should be reviewed and a decision made by parliament.
“These companies have taken a massive risk by immersing themselves in an uncertain political climate, if these contracts are determined to be against the interest of Somalia and the local people of Puntland, they will need to be renegotiated. The days of Somalia being taken advantage of have come to an end.” he added
The groups lawyers also suggest some of the current blocks being explored in the Puntland region may fall into the force majeure category of the pre 1990 era.
“If these blocks are indeed located in concessions held through force majeure by previous companies, the rightful owners of these concessions will have precedence and we intend to honor our previous agreements. Somalia is the rightful owner of its energy resources and will begin to act as such.” says K.R. Abdirahman, Interim Director of the group’s legal department.
“We will not allow Somalia to be plunged into an oil curse; we will protect, monitor and develop this resource at our own pace, after we have secured the country’s onshore and offshore borders. I can assure you this is not the Somalia of old; this process will be transparent, effective and heavily nationalistic ensuring that the local people are the true winners in this.” says Abdillahi Mohamud.
The East African Energy Forum is an international lobby group that works to protect Somalia’s energy resources.