Above: Total finished a 12 months seismic survey programme offshore occupied Western Sahara in July 2013. Image shows their contracted seismic survey vessels.
On 2 December 2013, Total's 12 month licence offshore Western Sahara expired. The press department of Total stated to a Swedish organisation today that it does not yet wish to clarify whether it has renewed its licence.
The agreement is highly controversial: Morocco illegally occupies the territory, and refuses to cooperate with the UN for a referendum on independence for the people of Western Sahara. The International Court of Justice has stated that Morocco's claims are unfounded, while the UN legal department has stated that Total's oil programme will be in violation of international law if the people of the territory do not consent and benefit.
As the 2013 WSRW report Totally Wrong documents, basically all Saharawi groups have denounced Total's plans in the territory.
Total's press department told the Swedish organisation Emmaus Stockholm today that information about a renewal of the licence will only be released mid-January, as "we are following up some procedures and are still discussing with Morocco".
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.
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.