Energy imports The occupation economy, largescale Moroccan industries and armed forces are all depending on imports of energy. This comes in two main ways.
Petroleum products are imported primarily from refineries in Spain. These products through approximately 160 shipments every year, into the ports of El Aaiun and Dakhla. WSRW has tracked the transports to a handful ports where the Spanish oil company CEPSA operate refineries. The most heavily used is the one in Carteya-Guadarranque near Gibraltar. The petroleum is shipped onboard an international fleet of tanker vessels, with a handful companies having long-term transport contracts. Most heavily involved is the Swedish shipping company Wisby Tankers, on Norwegian-flagged tankers, and a French company called Sogestra. These two companies transport around 40% of all petroleum products into the territory, combined. In 2014 and 2017, WSRW published reports/statistics on the involvement of Wisby Tankers and the importance of the imports of petroleum products. In 2020, an overview was published by WSRW relating to this trade.
Gas is imported in liquefied form, LPG. The end use is most likely larger industries. A first overview of the gas imports was published by WSRW in 2020. Historically, the gas has come from terminals in Spain. However, from end of 2019, the Spanish exports seem to have halted. Exporters in Sweden and Norway have stated they do not wish to take part in the gas exports.
Cement industry There are currently three cement factories in Western Sahara. Cement is naturally crucial for all construction of Moroccan government, military and civilian use. HeidelbergCement from Germany controls two of the factories – the CIMAR and the SIMSUD factories – via its subsidiary Ciments du Maroc. The latter factory is just about to be completed, constructed by ThyssenKrupp. In 2017, Swiss company LafargeHolcim anounced the finalisation of a 200,000 tonnes/year grinding unit in El Aaiún. The clinker for the industry is imported from Portugal.
Electricity The most worrisome development relates to Morocco’s construction of windfarms and solar power on occupied land. Read about that here. In addition, foreign companies have secured large contracts for electricity infrastructure, such as Larsen & Tourbo near Dakhla. In 2014, WSRW wrote about a Saharawi family whose land was invaded for electricity infrastructure, constructed by Alstom (now General Electric). Finnish company Wärtsilä has won tenders for diesel generated power plant in Dakhla.
Transportation Large-scale overland transports of mostly fisheries products take place on often anonymous trucks between the fisheries ports of Dakhla/El Aaiun on one side and ports in Morocco/Mauritania on the other.
Separate fleets of vessels operate for different products, such as exports of phosphates, sand, fish meal, fish oil. In 2020, WSRW did a first study on the fleet transporting frozen fish from the waters offshore Western Sahara, as well as the fleets used for imports of gas and petroleum products into Western Sahara. From 2019, the French company CMA CGM, opened up a line for transports of containers from Dakhla to France.
Some very few airlines operate to the occupied territory. Mostly involved is the Moroccan state-owned airline Air Maroc. Also groups like Binter Canarias, Air Arabia and the KLM/Air France-owned subsidiary Transavia have been involved over the last years.
Banking and insurance A number of foreign banks have installed operations in the occupied territory, most importantly Moroccan and some French banks. Most of these openly claim that Western Sahara is part of Morocco. This is the case for instance for instance for Axa, Moroccan banks. Western Union has offices in the territory.
A type of insurance of particular importance relates to maritime traffic. The insurers of the phosphate vessels are referred to in our annual report phosphate series P for Plunder.
Tourism Most players in the tourist sector are of small-scale. The most concerning development relates to kiting industry in the town of Dakhla, where backpackers, kiters and surfers from all over the world take part in a growing industry to ‘normalise’ the illegal occupation. Some kiting websites announce ’Dakhla, Morocco’ as a destination. AirBnB, Booking.com and Tripadvisor lists locations in Western Sahara as being in Morocco.
Port operations The two main ports in Western Sahara, the one in El Aaiun and Dakhla, are operated by a Moroccan government-controlled company Société d'Exploitation des Ports SA (or Marsa Maroc). Through this company, registered on the Casablanca stock-exchange, the resources of the territory is being plundered.
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.