Irish oil company San Leon Energy's exploratory drilling operation in occupied Western Sahara revealed the presence of gas, but thus far not of petroleum. The company will apply for a new licence with the Moroccan government and announces further seismic surveys to explore the potential petroleum reservoirs.
San Leon Energy yesterday announced its interim results for the first six months of 2015, in which it also commented on its recent drilling operation in occupied Western Sahara. The company's press release states that "post reporting period, the Laayoune-4 well on the Tarfaya conventional licence, onshore Morocco, was drilled and suspended with gas shows, pending further seismic work".
The company is planning to acquire a 3D seismic survey of the prospect and may consider re-entering the well based on the results of this survey.
"We are very pleased with the results of the Laayoune-4 well. Confirming the presence of gas shows and good reservoir quality is encouraging for the potential of the block and leads naturally to applying for a new eight year licence in the area, which would allow for seismic acquisition to be performed over the full channel complex," said San Leon's CEO Oisin Fanning.
San Leon Energy obtained its licence for the Tarfaya oil block from the Moroccan government, even though the block is only partially located in Morocco proper. The lion share of the block is located just south of Morocco's southern border, in Western Sahara, often referred to as Africa's last colony. Morocco has a large military presence in threequarters of the territory and has enforced its administration there. No country in the world recognises Morocco's sovereignty claim over the territory, which had been refuted by the International Court of Justice back in 1975, just days before Morocco invaded Western Sahara.
The people of Western Sahara, who have an internationally recognised right to determine the future status of the territory and its resources, have time and again protested San Leon's collaboration with Morocco in their occupied homeland. The company however says that the Saharawis are "not a representative people" and refuses to even engage in dialogue with them. As is evident from the above quoted press release, San Leon considers El Aaiun to be located in Morocco. The company thereby adopts the views of the Moroccan government, whom it actively assists in its colonisation of Western Sahara through engaging in Morocco's oil quest in the territory.
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.