Tag Archives: oil concessions Somalia

How to Poison a Population: War and Persistent Oil Pollution

Oil pollution in Syria has been a growing concern since the 2011 onset of a civil war that has taken a toll on oil infrastructure and seen rival powers compete over control of key hydrocarbon fields. In the Kurdish-held northeast, a large storage facility in the Rmeilan oil field in Hasakeh province is of particular concern, according to the Dutch peace organisation PAX. [A River of Death, pdf] Oil leaks from the Gir Zero storage facility have been suspected since at least 2014, the latest in March 2020, it said in a June report. Thousands of barrels have leaked out into creeks in the area over the past five years, threatening the health and livelihoods of people in dozens of villages….

The major Rmeilan field controlled by the Kurdish administration, located near a US airbase, has been among the Syrian Kurds’ most prized assets since regime forces withdrew early on in the war. But oil wealth comes at a heavy cost for livestock farmers
whose sheep and cows have died because they drank oil contaminated water.

Residents too suffer heavily from the pollution because  of the foul odour of gas and crude oil wafting over the area… Compounding the situation, makeshift oil refineries have cropped up across the northeast in recent years, dumping oil waste in the waterways…These informal refineries receive oil from nearby fields and process it to provide benzine, gasoline and diesel to locals.

Excerpts from Delil SouleimanBlack waters: Oil spills pollute northeast Syria creeks
by Delil Souleiman, AFP, July 23, 2020

Protecting Foreign Oil Companies – Somaliland

U.N. experts warn that plans by Somalia’s breakaway enclave Somaliland to deploy special forces to protect foreign oil companies could worsen conflicts in the long unstable Horn of Africa.  A confidential May 27, 2014 letter to the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on Somalia and Eritrea, obtained by Reuters on May 30, 2014, recommends the panel consider whether the planned armed unit could be viable or not.

“The deployment of an Oil Protection Unit could play into internal and regional conflicts that appear to be brewing within Somaliland and between Somaliland and other regional authorities, if its deployment is not handled carefully or accompanied by mitigating measures,” the coordinator of the expert monitoring group, Jarat Chopra, wrote.  The experts, who monitor sanctions violations, said in July that Western commercial oil exploration in disputed areas and discrepancies over which authorities can issue licenses to companies could cause more fighting in Somalia.  Chopra’s letter repeated that “legal and constitutional discrepancies in respect of oil licensing throughout Somalia have opened the door for potential conflicts between the Federal Government of Somalia and regional authorities, and between regional authorities themselves.”

The overthrow of a dictator in 1991 plunged Somalia into two decades of violence, first at the hands of clan warlords and then Islamist militants, while two semi-autonomous regions – Puntland and Somaliland – have cropped up in northern Somalia.  About a dozen companies, including many multinational oil and gas majors, had licenses to explore Somalia before 1991, but since then Somaliland, Puntland and other authorities have granted their own licenses for the same blocks….

Excerpt, MICHELLE NICHOLS AND LOUIS CHARBONNEA, Exclusive: U.N. experts wary of Somaliland plan for armed oil protection unit, Reuters, May 30, 2014

Oil, Somalia and the Fnal Frontier

Canadian oil and gas exploration company Horn Petroleum said  it had encountered only water in a well it drilled in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region earlier this year, the first to be sunk in the country since civil war erupted two decades ago.  The well, Shabeel North-1, reached a total depth of 3,945 metres and is now being plugged, Horn said.  Because there were no shows of oil and gas, Horn Petroleum determined a second well it drilled earlier in the year, Shabeel-1, also was dry and said the company would not test it further for hydrocarbon potential

“While we were disappointed that we were not able to flow oil from the first two exploration wells in our Puntland (Somalia) drilling campaign, we remain highly encouraged that all of the critical elements exist for oil accumulations, namely a working petroleum system,” Horn’s chairman Keith Hill said in a statement.  While there has been speculation about finding oil in the anarchic Horn of Africa country for decades, it has no proven hydrocarbon reserves. The prospect of oil beneath Dharoor’s sandy, arid plains has elicited excitement among officials of the impoverished region. The companies estimated there could be as much as 300 million barrels of recoverable oil in the northern part of Somalia.  Somalia, mired in conflict since warlords in the early 1990s and then Islamist militants reduced the government to impotence, represents one of the final frontiers in Africa to be explored.

Horn Petroleum’s Somali wells come up dry, Reuters, Aug. 28, 2012