Supplier to controversy rig withdraws further service
A company that installed key equipment of the Atwood Achiever told Norwegian broadcaster today it would never had taken on the assignment had they known the vessel would be used in Western Sahara. It has withdrawn from commitments to deliver service to the rig while in the territory.
The Norwegian multinational Aker Solutions in 2012 signed an agreement for the delivery of a so-called drilling riser system for the rig vessel Atwood Achiever, for approximately 70 million US dollars.
The construction of the rig is currently being finalized in South Korea, and when completed it will be deployed offshore occupied Western Sahara, by Kosmos Energy on behalf of the occupying power Morocco.
“If we had known that the equipment would be used in Western Sahara, we would not have signed this agreement”, Communications Manager Bunny Nooryani told Norwegian broadcaster NRK today.
She told that the company has routines checking where their equipment will be used, and that Aker Solutions will not bid for tenders in areas which the company has not approved for business activities, such as Western Sahara.
“According to our internal guidelines, we do not deliver equipment to Western Sahara. When we signed the agreement, we had no information as to where the rig would be used”, Nooryani told.
In a new story on NRK this morning, the company also stated it will not do service or provide further supply to the rig while it is operating in the territory:
"We often sign agreements of service and spare parts to equipment which we have already dlivered, but in such agreements we state we will not deliver such equipment if the rig will be used in a territory where we don't want to do business, such as Western Sahara", Nooryani stated.
The interview follows:
"So the fact that you now know that the rig Atwood Achiever will be used in Western Sahara means that you will not deliver service or spare parts to this rig in the future?"
"Yes, that is correct"
"So it had direct implications for the further follow-up from Aker Solution's side that this now happens?"
"Yes , that is very correct".
“If Aker had known that the rig would be used offshore Western Sahara, the company should have abstained from giving deliveries to Atwood”, professor Atle Midttun, leader of center for Corporate Social Responsibility at Norwegian Business School to NRK.
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.