Published On: Sun, Feb 26th, 2012

Britain leads dash to explore for oil in war-torn Somalia

Government offers humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in country’s future energy industry.
Britain is involved in a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia, with the government offering humanitarian aid and security assistance in the hope of a stake in the beleaguered country’s future energy industry.

Riven by two decades of conflict that have seen the emergence of a dangerous Islamic insurgency, Somalia is routinely described as the world’s most comprehensively “failed” state, as well as one of its poorest. Its coastline has become a haven for pirates preying on international shipping in the Indian Ocean.

David Cameron last week hosted an international conference on Somalia, pledging more aid, financial help and measures to tackle terrorism. The summit followed a surprise visit by the foreign secretary, William Hague, to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he talked about “the beginnings of an opportunity” to rebuild the country.

The Observer can reveal that, away from the public focus of last week’s summit, talks are going on between British officials and Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored in the arid north-eastern region of the country. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, minister for international cooperation in Puntland, north-east Somalia – where the first oil is expected to be extracted next month – said: “We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build our capacity to maximise future earnings from the oil industry.”

British involvement in the future Somali oil industry would be a boon for the UK economy and comes at a time when the world is increasingly concerned about the actions of Iran, the second-biggest oil producer in Opec.

Hashi, in charge of brokering deals for the region’s oil reserves, also said Somalia was looking to BP as the partner they wanted to “help us explore and build our oil capacity”. He added: “We need those with the necessary technical knowhow, we plan to talk to BP at the right time.”

Somali prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had little choice but to entice western companies to Somalia by offering a slice of the country’s natural resources, which include oil, gas and large reserves of uranium. “The only way we can pay [western companies] is to pay them in kind, we can pay with natural resources at the fair market value.”

Britain is not the only country looking to develop Somalia’s vast natural resources. Last month oil exploration began in Puntland by the Canadian company Africa Oil, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years. Hashi, who sealed the Africa Oil deal, said the first oil was expected to be extracted within the next “20 to 30 days”.

The company estimates there could be up to 4bn barrels (about $500bn worth at today’s prices) in its two drilling plots. Other surveys indicate that Puntland province alone has the potential to yield 10bn barrels, placing it among the top 20 countries holding oil. Chinese and US firms are among those understood to have also voiced interest about the potential for oil now that, for the first time in 20 years, the country is safe enough to drill.

Yet it is the extent of oil deposits beneath the Indian Ocean that is most exciting Somali officials. One said the potential was comparable to that of Kuwait, which has more than 100bn barrels of proven oil reserves. If true, the deposits would eclipse Nigeria’s reserves – 37.2bn barrels – and make Somalia the seventh largest oil-rich nation.

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation has tried to acquire an interest in Somalia’s reserves. Senior officials from the Somali transitional government are adamant that the imminent extraction of oil in Puntland next month would kickstart a scramble from the multinationals.

On Thursday, the last day of the London conference, BP and Shell unveiled an initiative to support job-creation projects in the coastal regions of Somalia. A subsidiary of Shell was thought to have acquired exploration concessions in Puntland before the descent into lawlessness in 1991.

A BP spokesman said there were “no plans” to work in Somalia and no official had recently visited the country.

Source: The Observer

Displaying 42 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Mohamoud Sakua says:

    Why no comments and what happen to you guys.

    • Naanaale says:

      They are so depressed after reading the latest reports.. Where are the kuwii qabyaalada iyo nacayb-ka soomaaliya madax maray….

      • Gobaad says:

        Why would we be so depressed? First natrual resources are not only in Somalia. It is also in Somaliland and in adundance too and yet to be discovered. Secondly, we are not envious or vindictive like you. Anagu sidiina xaasid namuu gogoyin ee Alla haydiin barakeeyo awaanno idin leenahay.

    • 007hargeisa says:

      Hello can u hear me ……look before u leap. Hold the celebrations If u think any revenues from oil will go to the people u are a dreamer. It will enrich the war lords and bandits that rule u. U have to build a government by the people for the people. u have to have a check and balance system like Somaliland. Those in power will stay in power.But why I have to talk to you about good governance ; something u never had and never knew. U where always under a dictator or war lord. Somaliland has more valuable than gold and oil….GREAT LIGITIMATE, ELECTED GOVERNMENT. You were and sill are jealous of Somaliland

    • Adan Cayanshe says:

      Drill baby Drill , drill all the way to Utopia, .
      @Sakua . There is you comment.

  2. waryaa says:

    this is the biggest news and comments.

  3. reerSaaxil says:

    I'm very happy for the brothers in Puntland, I hope they get the most out of their land, and insha Allah one day Somaliland will also get those contracts too.

    • kaboon says:

      ameen, may Allah give baraka to their oil and natural resources. please now leave us alone. congratulation on getting 20% of the price Saudis and Iranians sell their oil for

  4. ComeAgain says:

    Somalilanders would not comment till you opened your mouth because WE DONT GIVE A SH YT ABOUT PUNTALAND! YOU BASICALLY MATTER ABOUT AS MUCH AS A FART IN THE WIND TO LANDERS!

    Are the puntaland sites soo boring that you have to come on here? Awww, nahh seriously i dont give a fu g you can have oil, gold, hell they can even find the garden of eden and it still wouldnt change the fact that Landers just dont give a f ug about puntaland! Lmaooo dude get a life!

    • kaboon says:

      lool believe that home boy. somaliland is long gone and there is nothing but their tracks left

    • farxaan says:

      People want to socialise small head,Exchange of comment it’s not That Bad,Forget That garbage we been bombed etc so The rest of somalia,your sick Person you need help somalis kill each Other in every level so cut This Mongering,build your region & ask Recognition The world which it’s not Gone happen.

  5. Abraham says:

    Why should we comment on something that does not concern us? Do you think we are raging with envy like your people? No we are not envious of what Almighty Allah gives others, we are Muslims and envy is not something we do. Honestly, I would congratulate and be happy for Puntland only if they leave us alone to live in peace.

  6. AhmedY says:

    Guys, wait till ours comes. The drilling will start this year in three plots. The only diference is that we managing our's properly.

    My advice to Puntland is that if the oil becomes viable please make sure that it does not become a curse on you like it did in many African Countries.

  7. Mohamoud Sakua says:

    Happy oil drilling and enjoy with your wealth. But remember to assist you somaliland brothers.

  8. yusuf says:

    this oil money will be used to unify all of somalia.

  9. abdi says:

    But no one has ever said somaliland has oil, not anyone or company you that is reliable. The companies who came to somalia during the dictatorship of Said Barre where mainly interested in the disputed regions of puntland.

  10. HMObsiye says:

    If this news materialize,I hope puntland will now stop piracy at the sea since oil money is Halal than the criminal act they commit over the sea.

  11. Ayanle says:

    Today is a sad day my friends. Oil is and Will always be a curse
    for Africa. The only difference now is that those warlord can fuel their madness
    for a hundred year. Ecological disaster and partition of Somalia are the Next step.
    May god help us…

  12. Mohamoud Sakua says:

    Our brothers and sister came to Hartiland and celebrate with us. We are filthy rich now, Don not worry about the past your Khaat is included in this long long party.

  13. mohamed cheers says:

    Bogus and mind boggling propaganda. Don't waste any comments on such meaningless
    and maliciously misleading mischief. All these are meant to disrupt and destablise Somaliland and
    what it stands for.

  14. Gee says:

    This place the Somali name in better economic, political and social status. All Somalis need to be proud of this resource given to us by Allah. The year 2012 begun with prosperity, I hope there will be more peace more oil and other natural resources in Somalia.

    All Bless Somalia

  15. Ahmed C/Lahii says:

    This is very dangerous to the country, society and the environment if it's not managed well. To manage this you need stable government, but what I read from 23rd Feb meeting tell me that the revenue would be managed by outsiders (Joint Financial Management Board) and the reason is Somalis don't have the capabilities and the power to manage their own affairs. Somalis can not feed themselves and were not able to stablise the country for over 20 years, so we manage this for them.

    This is not looking good and secondly, does anyone know how this will be managed?

    Let me know.

  16. Gobaad says:

    Now that Puntland has become a petro dollar state we should call them the Kuwaitis

  17. MISSLOVELY says:


  18. Gee says:


    Has this oil been explored earlier, it could cause danger to nation. Now with the Somalis got maturity due to conflict. Additionally, the fact that there is sufficient expertise within Somalis, I am sure it would be managed well and there will not be any danger. Secondly, the western countries like Great Britain, US, Turkey etc will have more interest and hence they will play positive role to maintain peace and stability. On the other hand we Somali are clashing as a result of resource scarcity, therefore exploration of petrolium will bring prosperity that will make us busy in nation building. In history there was more love among the somalis when resouce (pasture, livestock, milk) was abundant in the past. We used to call peace and milk (Nabad & Caano) which are both interdependant. If there is no milk, you cannot have peace. Now having petrolium-caano, there is no room to fight.

  19. Tanade says:

    oh my god oh my god

    when this oil comes out i wil go back and throw my passposrt away naver ever to come back to this cold weather

  20. burco says:

    The responds and comments I read about this article is utterly embarrassing..I Don't understand why Somalis lack cooperation..which leads to explain how simplistic it was for the former colonizers to conquer British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, and French Somaliland..The ironic part is Somalis lack history and still continue to bicker and argue about meanless cases..This is simply why both states are overwhelmed by proverty..Leaders and party memebers hold grudges and use that element as a vehicle to cause more seperation and segregation..I am sure tens of thousands of Somalis from Moqadishu live in Hargeysa peacefully and cause no harm to society so why do we (yes I am from Burco) discriminate against our fellow brothers and sisters?..isnt racism forbidden in Islam?..Segregation and civil wars are the most bloodest and terrible wars any states can fight..This prepetual separation among two brothers is a failure of our government..Can someone please explain to me why we can't get along and put old disputes to the side and find a solution to two states that are almost identical in heritage, culture, and religion..

  21. ComeAgain says:

    No we are not identical in heritage, culture, and honestly how muslim can one be considering puntaland and their bloody history. Let me remind you that these are some of the same people that would invite elders to talks unarmed and then kill them. There goes your religion arguement!

    Take that identical nonsense elsewhere we know better. We are not the same people!

    • Xarago says:

      Why you so hatred Puntland people, they are same as Somaliland people, there good and bad people, walalaal don't go to far I hope you are mature enough. Somali problem if effected every one so I will will move and build our country inshaallah.

      Love your people and your country Guul Somalia.

    • abdisamad says:

      This person is full of hate,yes we are
      Not The some because your full of Desease take your medication.

  22. ComeAgain says:

    Xarago I dont like to argue with women but your bloody history is like a bad reputation that stuff follows you and considering puntaland is constantly trying to start sh yt between Landers you deserve to hear the truth!

    You can talk that this affected everyone bs elsewhere it wasnt bossasso that was getting carpet bombed by the somali air force now was it? You were not watching somali tv watching people get killed by the dictator while they called them names just because they were not from his tribe, si yaad was not taking your men out on beaches in the middle of the night and gunning them down, while the whole entire country our so called somali brothers watched and applauded……..get out of here with that guul somalia bs

    I know my history! There was a man who was asked once why he was not excited at the sight of rome falling and he said that right then there was such a cry of freedom in the world that it was deafening!


    Focus on somalia and leave us the hell alone!

    • Xarago says:

      We will leave you alone but leave Sool and Sanaag it belongs to Puntland don't claim them. Togdheer and Waqooyii bare take it where ever you want if you want that welcome otherwise you will be still with the union inshaallah.

  23. ComeAgain says:

    Stop for the love of God claiming lands you DO NOT occupy as a majority! Stop lying and people just might take you seriously!

    Like I said you are liars and cheats Sanaag especially is where you dont even have a decent minority but you still wanna claim it! Madness thats like saying Somalis in California can claim that state outright eventhough they dont have the majority!

    • ahmed says:

      you keep saying stop ,well The people of
      Awdak,sool,sanaag,They are creating Their own self rule regional,total Population in These regions it’s about 1.8 million They are not minority,so Take This nonsene back & stop dreaming Ever coming recognition.

  24. Just saying says:

    This is very dangerous not even Sland is ready for the huge amount of money extracting oil would bring let alone Somalia/Puntland. Let us pray that this will benefit the people not the Foreign companies and corrupt officials. I truly believe this will only escalade fighting like in other african countries. What is different in Somalia? No one will care because money talks and this applies even to the most of somalis. we are stuck in your medieval qabil mentality. Im not a hater just speaking the truth, the worst enemy of the somali people is separation mentality that 99,9% of Somalis have "my qabil is better then yours!" blablabla. The day the Somalis return to the book is the day the fighting will stop until then stop waisting time trying to achieve peace when there is no fundament to build it on. The "qabil" must die for peace to come. Thats why tribe mentality is long gone in the western hemisphere. But for that development is strongly needed.

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