Kosmos' ordered drill rig on its way to occupied Western Sahara
The Atwood Achiever, the oil rig commissioned by Kosmos Energy to drill for oil in occupied Western Sahara, is currently at anchor in Singapore. In a few weeks time, the rig may permanently damage the Saharawi people's aspirations to freedom and independence, as it commences unethical and illegal oil drilling in Africa's last colony.
If Kosmos' pushes through, it will be the first time that oil is drilled in Western Sahara - a territory largely occupied by Morocco since 1975 in blatant disrespect for international law and human rights.
The Saharawi people, living under the brutal yoke of the Moroccan occupation and their exiled relatives living in Algerian refugee camps, oppose Kosmos' plans. They fear that if oil is found in their occupied homeland, Morocco will never abandon its unfounded claim on their country.
Their view is supported by none other than former UN Legal Chief, Ambassador Hans Corell, who at the request of the UN Security Council authored a Legal Opinion on oil exploration and exploitation in Western Sahara. His Opinion, published in January 2002, concluded that the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people, as the sole and original people of the territory, are the two legal requirements for any such activity to take place.
Ambassador Corell was quoted in the Financial Times of 17 Sept 2014, saying that: “The more resources are found in Western Sahara and its maritime zone, the less will be the incentive for Morocco to fulfil the UN resolutions and international law”.
The Atwood Achiever was constructed in South Korea. The vessel is now slowly making its way to the occupied waters, making a stopover in Singapore. The Atwood Achiever is expected to begin one of the most controversial oil drillings in recent history - in occupied land that is the subject of ongoing UN peace talks - before the end of this year.
A seismic survey vessel that Kosmos Energy had chartered to do seismic studies off Western Sahara - the BGP Prospector - left Saharawi waters only few weeks ago, after having carried out its last geological surveys. After a stopover in Las Palmas, the BGP Prospector vessel headed towards South America last week.
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.