November 2, 2012 ·3 Comments
Somaliland’s Minister of Mining, Energy & Water Resources Hussein Abdi Dualeh has announced an “open door policy” for upstream investors in the Horn of Africa’s breakaway republic.
In offering vacant offshore and onshore acreage to suitors, Dualeh proclaims “exciting times ahead for Somaliland, with the government sending a clear message that we are open for business.”
Dualeh declared the new policy just weeks after elections in the rest of Somalia ushered in a new presidency, with former officials insisting that all contracts signed with Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland may not be honoured. Undeterred, Dualeh further specified that “international exploration and production companies will take their activities in Somaliland to a decisive next stage, operating on a scale not seen since the country regained its independence 21 years ago.”
Acquisition of high-resolution airborne gravity and magnetic surveys and 2D seismic sweeps will soon be carried out on existing concessions held by Australian company Jacka Resources, veteran Africa-focused explorer Ophir Energy and Genel Energy, run by former BP chief executive Tony Hayward.
Genel will shoot a 10-week aeromagnetic survey within Togdheer region in December, and follow up with a 3000 kilometre, 2D seismic sweep. Genel this month farmed in to 75% of onshore blocks SL-10E and SL-13, originally allocated to Asante Oil, and will spend $38 million on the work commitment, according to Dualeh.
Ophir enjoys 75% operatorship of onshore blocks 9 and 35 and offshore blocks M-10A, while Emirates-based explorer RakGas operates Block 12.
Jacka Resources controls the Odewayne licence comprising onshore part-blocks 6, 7 and 10
“Somaliland presents an unusual opportunity to discover proven exploration concepts, where key elements for generation and entrapment of hydrocarbon are present in a variety of geological settings,” Dualeh said. “A working petroleum system is now known to be present within the Mesozoic to Tertiary sedimentary section,” he added.
Significant progress has been made in deterring maritime piracy rooted in Somaliland, but the Hargeisa-based government’s lack of international recognition continues to hamper efforts to kick-start upstream exploration.
Observers suggested it is likely that Somaliland’s re-assertion of its right to an independent oil policy is associated with widespread disappointment at the lack of progress in achieving international recognition as an independent republic. The government had agreed to attend a London conference on Somalia early this year, which local politicians had hoped would pave the way for a diplomatic breakthrough.
However, attention has instead been diverted to efforts by African Union troops to liberate southern Somalia from Al-Shabaab militants.
Somaliland, which claims sovereign boundaries exactly matching those of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland, will hold elections on 28 November.
By Barry Morgan