Is Kosmos Energy undertaking a last survey on the Boujdour Maritime licence before it waves goodbye to occupied Western Sahara? Or has an unknown company taken over the licence? Last week, seabed petroleum surveys started at the place where Kosmos drilled in 2014.
Last week, however, a new round of seismic studies started up exactly on the same place from which ONHYM announced that Kosmos would depart.
The survey takes place along the same tracks and in the same area where Kosmos carried out seismic studies in 2014 and around the Gargaa-1 well in April and October 2017.
The small fleet of four vessels is led by BGP Prospector - a Chinese seismic study vessel that operated in the territory on four earlier occasions. BGP Prospector left the port of Las Palmas on 1 February 2018, and has since been zigzagging the waters offshore the occupied territory.
The BGP Prospector is accompanied by three smaller vessels: Shannon (IMO number 8871754, Vanuatu flagged), Flamingo (IMO number 6911861, Vanuatu flagged), Geo Service I (IMO number 9621546, Singapore flagged). That team of vessels have been operating in Western Sahara for similar work in the past, several times.
Reading the statement from ONHYM, 6 February 2018, more closely, it appears clear that it is not stated which date Kosmos would depart. The statement mentioned that Kosmos would in fact "supervise seismic acquisition and the interpretation of 3D seismic data, until the delivery of its final report to ONHYM". However, when exactly Kosmos has finished its obligations are not specified. There are still no indications on the websites of Kosmos and Cairn that they have departed the licence in the occupied territory.
The chance is therefore that Kosmos is in fact behind the continued seismic study observed now. If a new company has taken over, its identity is not known to WSRW. In case a new company has taken over, it would mean that the agreement of the Kosmos/Cairn departure from Western Sahara must have been signed some time back, and that the transfer of the licence took place some time ago, perhaps as long ago as to charter the present survey ships.
WSRW is concerned about the continuation of activity on the block, and the role of Kosmos in that, irrespective of whether Kosmos is behind the current acquisition or not.
"The continued offshore surveys, illustrate the problematic aspects of the recent statement from ONHYM. Kosmos has promised to complete the partnership with ONHYM, including transfer of geological data. We call on Kosmos not to transfer any data from its dirty seismic and drilling operations over to Morocco. The occupation is illegal, and Morocco has no right to those data. Kosmos should unequivocally state that it will not hand over more data to Morocco, and that it has no intention to return to the occupied territory in the future", Erik Hagen of WSRW stated.
Kosmos Energy registered on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2011 and on London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2017. When it first registered in 2011, its prospectus to shareholders elaborated thoroughly on the risk involved in Western Sahara. However, and perhaps remarkably, it did not do so in the prospectus when registering in London. In the meantime, the legal-financial risk had increased: Several legal cases had concluded favorably to the people of Western Sahara in national and international courts, including detention of vessels in foreign ports, involved in the plunder of the territory's resources.
Morocco has illegally occupied most of the territory of Western Sahara since 1975.
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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.