The Swiss/UK multinational Glencore, one of the world's largest companies, has departed Western Sahara. It was the largest foreign company present in the territory, and one of very few exploring for oil.
The company has since 2013 been the operator of the Boujdour Offshore Shallow oil exploration block, located in the waters between Western Sahara and the Canary Islands.
The assets that Glencore held have been transferred to Teredo, which was the other owner of the licence. It is thus believed that Teredo also has taken over the operatorship of the Boujdour Offshore Shallow licence. The transaction of shares to Teredo was concluded already on 22 November 2017, according to the Moroccan official document. As late as 10 November, Glencore told Moroccan media that the negotiations for its departure were still ongoing. Several international investors have engaged with the company to halt the agreement in the occupied waters.
The company clarified to Swiss media already in May 2017 that it intended to depart. The company had two licences, one called Foum Ognit, in which it held a minority stake. And another, the Boujdour Offshore Shallow, where it also was operator. Leaving the Foum Ognit appeared rather unproblematic for the company, but the negotiations with the Moroccan state company ONHYM for the departure from Boujdour Offshore Shallow appeared more complex, from what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands. WSRW has since May 2017 been waiting for the final confirmation that the company has departed.
Only three stock-exchange registered companies are currently partnering with the Moroccan government in the oil search: Kosmos Energy (USA), Cairn Energy (UK) with an offshore licence, while San Leon Energy (UK) operates onshore. Little is known about Teredo, the small company that took over Glencore's asset.
Since you're here.... WSRWs work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work 3, 5, 27 what you can spare the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here. The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU stated on 10 January 2018 that international humanitarian law applies to the occupied Western Sahara, and that the EU fisheries agreement with Morocco covering Western Sahara therefore is invalid. The Court also stress that the legality of an agreement in Western Sahara depends on the consent from the representatives of the people of the territory.
A UN legal opinion from 2002 declares that no further oil exploration can take place without consent from the people of Western Sahara. The oil companies currently involved - Kosmos, Cairn and San Leon - all present incorrectly the conclusion of the UN legal opinion.
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.