Total has requested renewal of licence in Western Sahara
The French oil company Total has asked for a one year renewal of their controversial licence in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW calls on investors to divest from the company.
Published: 14.12 - 2012 18:40Printer version    
The website Business & Human Rights published 14 December a statement they had received from Total regarding the operations in Western Sahara.

The company defends its operations and admits that "ONHYM and our local affiliate have applied for a one year extension in order to process  and interpret- the on-going seismic acquisition".

Western Sahara Resource Watch warned recently that if Total chooses to renew its controversial licence, it would call upon the owners of the company to divest from the company.

"Total's decision to continue the activities, clearly undermines the solving of the conflict and its operations violate international law. Owners of the company that do not want to be associated with this planned robbery of the Saharawi people's natural resources should immediately proceed to divest from the company", warns Erik Hagen, chair of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

The area offshore Western Sahara that Total is working in has been occupied by Morocco since 1975/1979. Morocco's occupation is condemned by the UN.

Here is Total's full statement:

1. On December 2, 2011, Total E&P Maroc and ONHYM (Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines) were granted an Authorization of Reconnaissance covering the Anzarane Offshore area. The “Anzarane Offshore area relevant information” has been posted during the first quarter 2012 on the ONHYM web-site, as well as all the petroleum agreements, reconnaissance contracts and open acreages (See )

2. During the first year of reconnaissance, our affiliate achieved various geological and geophysical studies and completed a marine survey during summer 2012. ONHYM and our local affiliate have applied for a one year extension in order to process  and interpret- the on-going seismic acquisition.

3. Our local affiliate conducted evaluation works in the same area 10 years ago. Emergence of new ideas on hydrocarbons potential of the area, and improvement of seismic technologies lead us to apply for an new Authorization of Reconnaissance on the same area.

4. It is important to remind that an Authorization of Reconnaissance is neither an exploration contract nor an exploitation contract. It allows evaluation works and surveys of geological and geophysical nature with a view to assessing the petroliferous nature of the sub-soil, and it excludes exploratory drilling. This type of Reconnaissance authorization is common in the Oil and Gas industry, especially in the countries or areas where existence of hydrocarbons has not yet been demonstrated.

5. Our affiliate has been working in the aforementioned offshore area in accordance with the provisions of the letter dated 29 January 2002 from the UN Legal Counsel addressed to the President of the UN Security Council, which states that such contracts for oil Reconnaissance and evaluation “are not in themselves  illegal “. Should the reconnaissance period results be encouraging, any further exploration and exploitation activities will be conducted in compliance with “the principles of international law applicable to mineral resources activities in the Non-Self-Governing Territories” and not “in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara” (see . Globally speaking, as it is expressed in our Code of Conduct, “Total complies with all applicable laws, regulations and decisions of the United Nations and the European Union” and respects the UN Business and Human Rights standards.



26.01 - 2020 / 27.08 - 2010Support Western Sahara Resource Watch
22.01 - 2020 / 22.01 - 2020States urge Spain to respect Saharawi rights in Human Rights Council
13.01 - 2020 / 13.01 - 2020Continental negotiating contract renewal with OCP
25.12 - 2019 / 10.11 - 2019Fugro is back in occupied Western Sahara
10.12 - 2019 / 09.12 - 2019Flotilla targets phosphate plunder ship
10.12 - 2019 / 10.12 - 2019WSRW calls on UN Members to question Spain on Western Sahara at UPR
04.12 - 2019 / 04.12 - 2019Conflict beach taking shape in Canary Islands
02.12 - 2019 / 02.12 - 2019Dutch inspectors confirm controversial fish oil
02.12 - 2019 / 02.12 - 2019Kiwi port workers threaten not to discharge Western Sahara cargo
01.12 - 2019 / 30.11 - 2019Conflict sand to cover Canary beach
28.11 - 2019 / 25.11 - 2019Will COP 25 clarify if it accepts illegal projects?
28.11 - 2019 / 27.11 - 2019Enel signs contract to build Boujdour wind farm
21.11 - 2019 / 21.11 - 2019New Zealand port workers warn Kiwi importer of Saharawi phosphate
20.11 - 2019 / 19.11 - 2019Hans Corell criticizes EU fisheries in Western Sahara
10.11 - 2019 / 08.11 - 2019Turkey’s conflict aquaculture exposed
08.11 - 2019 / 07.11 - 2019CGG blames Shell for Saharawi survey
16.10 - 2019 / 16.10 - 2019GeoEx pushes seismic data from occupied land
15.10 - 2019 / 15.10 - 2019Fish oil from occupied Western Sahara imported into the Netherlands?
04.10 - 2019 / 11.09 - 2019Anchoring occupation: Morocco to construct $1bn port in Western Sahara
09.09 - 2019 / 09.09 - 2019German trade fair should stop promoting Azura, groups say


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 five 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 2019 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