African exploration interests are currently focused on Tanzania and
Zanzibar, CEO Peter Voser said Thursday, though he also mentioned the
oil giant has blocks of land available in Somalia.
Somalia comments are the clearest indication yet the Anglo-Dutch major
may exercise exploration rights that are more than 20 years old, signed
before the African nation descended into brutal civil war. He addressed
the company's interests in Africa with reporters on the sidelines of a
luncheon in Boston.
"We have our exploration blocks in Tanzania
Zanzibar and that has all of our focus at the moment," Mr. Voser said,
while declining to address a reporter's question about Mozambique.
"we have also further blocks further north in Somalia. So we are
pursuing our organic exploration strategy," the CEO also said.
along with fellow oil majors BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) and Chevron Corp.
(CVX), were granted exploration licenses for Somalia by the
then-government of Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, whose regime was
toppled in 1991. The companies declared force majeure and quit Somalia
as the country descended into lawlessness.
Speculation has swirled
since the election of a new permanent president last year as to whether
big Western oil companies would be encouraged to return, bringing much
needed investment. The issue has been complicated by two semi-autonomous
regions in northern Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, which have
granted their own licenses to smaller, more prospective explorers, some
which overlap with earlier licenses handed out to other firms.
Voser addressed broader themes in his address to the Boston
College-hosted event, such as how booming natural gas supplies can help
lessen greenhouse gas emissions.