The Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas is now negotiating an oil exploration permit in occupied Western Sahara. The unethical talks are done against the interest of the people of Western Sahara, and contribute to violate international law as described by the UN in 2002.
On 25 February 2009, few days prior to their Annual General Meeting, the Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas announced that negotiations for an oil exploration contract in Western Sahara "are to commence".
Now, the company has confirmed that negotiations for such permit have in fact started. This appeared in a Interim Results report for the period ended 31 January 2009. Download the report here, or read it here.
The agreement they are negotiating is "an eight year Exploration Licence, with seismic being planned at an early stage to firm up a potential drilling location on one of the most prospective structures defined by the aeromagnetic survey."
So far, Island Oil and Gas has only had a reconnaissance agreement. The company holds two oil agreements in Western Sahara, one in the north-eastern part, overlapping the city of Smara, another in the north-west, overlapping the city of El Aaiun.
The report also reveals that Island and their partners are preparing to award a contract to reprocess 1000 kilometers of existing 2D data for the Tarfaya block in the north-west, as well as looking to award a contact for 500 km shooting of 2D seismics later this year.
The firm Netherland, Sewell & Associates has made an analysis of the oil prospects in Tarfaya, stating that there is a "Probable Perspective" for oil. It is not known whether the report includes an analysis of the legality or the ethical aspects of the oil search in Western Sahara.
A UN legal opinion from 2002 states that further oil search in Western Sahara would be in violation of international law, if the Sahrawi people's opinion is not taken into account. And it is not. Morocco has brutally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and proceeded handing out oil deals in Western Sahara despite the UN opinion.
Island Oil and Gas is headed by chairman Bryan Benitz, and CEO Paul Griffiths (photo above).
Western Sahara Resource Watch has sent numerous requests to the Island Oil and Gas directors, urging them to be ethical and stop the support to the occupation, but they have so far refused to answer.
More than 500 Sahrawis have disappeared during the illegal Moroccan occupation, and a majority of the Sahrawi people have fled the country under the Moroccan rule. No states in the world recognise Western Sahara as being part of Morocco. Island Oil and Gas believes it is.
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.
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.
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Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.