WSRW condemns Glencore's oil exploration in Western Sahara

WSRW has today appealed to Swiss company Glencore Plc to withdraw from its participation in Morocco's oil search in Western Sahara. Read the full letter here.
Published: 18.12 - 2014 15:10Printer version    
In October 2014, WSRW revealed that Swiss firm Glencore Plc had been awarded two oil licenses by the Moroccan government for oil Blocks that are located offshore occupied Western Sahara. WSRW urges the company to withdraw from the territory, giving the peace process breathing space and allowing for the Saharawi people to determine the status and governance of their own country.

Glencore Plc
Baarermattstrasse 3
CH-6340 Baar

18 December 2014

To the attention of Ivan Glasenberg
CEO of Glencore Plc

Dear Mr Glasenberg,

We write to you following media releases stating that your company, Glencore Xstrata, has been awarded two licenses offshore occupied Western Sahara. We understand that your company has contracted SeaBird Exploration to undertake seismic studies on one of the blocks, given the current seismic acquisition undertaken by SeaBird’s vessel Harrier Explorer on the Foum Ognit block.

We are confident that it is not in your company’s interest to be associated with the Western Saharan conflict and its resulting human suffering. We appeal to Glencore’s adherence to the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, and accordingly urge your company to immediately terminate its participation in the Foum Ognit and Boujdour Offshore Shallow Prospects.

As you will know, large parts including the coastal areas of Western Sahara have been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Morocco’s claim over its southern neighbour has been refuted by the International Court of Justice, which accorded to the Saharawi people – the sole and original people of the territory – the right to self-determination. That right has been restated in over 100 UN Resolutions, while no State in the world recognises Morocco’s unfounded presence in the territory. The United Nations consider Western Sahara as a case of unfinished decolonization.

The protracted nature of the conflict comes at a terribly high human cost. About half the Saharawi population of Western Sahara had to flee their homeland during Morocco’s brutal invasion and the ensuing war. These people still live in Algerian refugee camps, where entire generations of Saharawis have to grow up, surviving on dwindling international aid. One in 5 children suffers malnutrition and stunted growth, according to recent studies of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme. Meanwhile, the Saharawis that today still live in Western Sahara are subjected to gross human rights violations at the hand of the Moroccan authorities.

As in line with the Saharawi’s internationally backed right to self-determination, the UN Legal Counsel concluded in 2002 that any oil exploration or exploitation in Western Sahara would be in violation of international law, if not in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people. The Saharawis have repeatedly expressed their opposition to Morocco’s oil plans in their land under occupation; both by voice of the Saharawi internationally recognized representatives - the Frente Polisario - as by many Saharawi organisations from within the occupied zone.
But while the UN tries to broker a peaceful solution to the conflict, Morocco has been consistently blocking any advancement in the peace process. One of its tactics that severely undermines the much needed good faith between the parties, is Morocco’s continuous plunder of the Saharawi resources.

As such Glencore’s involvement in Morocco’s oil programme in occupied Western Sahara only serves to prolong the conflict and hinder a long-lasting, just and peacefully negotiated solution. Furthermore, it undermines an ever more fragile truce in the territory. Saharawis are increasingly frustrated over the stalled peace talks, while Morocco is allowed to advance its presence in the territory by creating facts on the ground. The Frente Polisario views Morocco’s oil search as a violation of the 1991 cease-fire agreement. The calls to resume war are growing louder with each passing momentum to reach a solution.

As it stands, Glencore’s participation in the oil exploration is politically controversial, since it supports Morocco's unfounded claim over Western Sahara, it is contributing to undermining and violating international law, and it is, most importantly, deeply unethical, since it contributes to the continued suffering for the oppressed Saharawi people.
Only the Saharawis have a right to determine the future status and governance of their land. Not Morocco. Not Glencore. Allowing the Saharawis to exercise their right to self-determination before undertaking business in Western Sahara, will not only clarify with whom Glencore should rightfully engage, but it will also make Glencore a part of the solution of the conflict, and not part of the problem.

Glencore can do without the association to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. Maintaining good relations with the over 70 States in the world that recognise the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a State will prove more valuable to your company. Withdrawing from the territory would be a clear sign that your company takes the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility seriously.

We urge you to immediately terminate your involvement in occupied Western Sahara. It will be in the interest of many.

Best regards,

Erik Hagen
Western Sahara Resource Watch


06.03 - 2018 / 06.03 - 2018Kosmos Energy maintains propaganda site after Western Sahara exit
02.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018What is HeidelbergCement doing in occupied Western Sahara?
01.03 - 2018 / 01.03 - 2018Confirmed: Innophos key client of Western Sahara phosphate rock
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018South Africa stands up against the plunder of Western Sahara
28.02 - 2018 / 28.02 - 2018Bermuda shipping company drops Western Sahara
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018EU and Morocco announce continued fisheries partnership
27.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018EU Parliament slams Commission on Western Sahara talks
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Polisario: open to negotiate Western Sahara deals with the EU
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018Saharawi refugees celebrate EU Court victory
27.02 - 2018 / 27.02 - 2018BREAKING: EU Court stops EU-Morocco fish deal in Western Sahara
23.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018SA Court confirms: Morocco has no ownership over Saharawi phoshates
23.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018EU Member States disagree over toxic fertilizers
21.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018Vigeo Eiris goes back on false claim
20.02 - 2018 / 20.02 - 2018EU Parliamentarians concerned over Commission's respect of rule of law
15.02 - 2018 / 15.02 - 2018Sweden to vote against new EU-Morocco fish talks
08.02 - 2018 / 08.02 - 2018Studies continue on Kosmos Energy's block
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Kosmos and Cairn have pulled out of Western Sahara
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Why WSRW refuses to take part in the EU's Western Sahara consultation
03.02 - 2018 / 03.02 - 2018Unison condemnation of the EU Commission from Western Sahara groups
02.02 - 2018 / 01.02 - 2018Siemens fails to respond Western Sahara question at AGM


Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy