Kosmos Energy was first engaged in Western Sahara on 29th of October 2004, when they purchased 30% of the rights in the so-called Boujdour block, where US oil company Kerr-McGee was operator. After Kerr-McGee left the area, Kosmos on 3rd of May 2006 signed an extensive agreement with the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM. The same month, they opened an office in Morocco, without having any other engagement in the region than the Boujour agreement. The first agreement was valid for a period of 18 months, but have since been renewed on a number of occasions.
Today, they hold a 75% interest in the Boujdour block, while ONHYM holds the remainder 25%.
May 2011, the Kosmos Energy Ltd. was registered at the New York Stock Exchange, and shares were traded from 11 May 2011. Until then, the firm has been privately owned. This made it impossible to get any information from the company. "We do not need to talk with you", the Kosmos management has told to representatives of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
Morocco plans to speed up the oil hunt in Western Sahara. In its 2005-2009 strategy ONHYM states that Western Sahara "still remains under-explored, and shall be the object of an intensive exploration programme, with the objective of prove the petroleum potential in the territory".
Kosmos plays a central part of this strategy. On a map from ONHYM, Kosmos' blocks are clearly marked offshore Boujdour.
The fact that Kosmos and Kerr-McGee's new owners, Anadarko, cooperates closely, and have a "joint development team" is confirmed by this presentation. Anadarko has denied that this cooperation extends to Western Sahara. The reference to Kerr-McGee on Kosmos' homesite disappeared September 2008, after the company launched new homepages.
Kerr-McGee was internationally known for their deal with ONHYM in the occupied Western Sahara. A number of owners of Kerr-McGee divested from the company over ethical reasons.
One of the investors to divest from Kerr-McGee, was the Norwegian Government's Pension Fund (also called The Petroleum Fund) that for the first time in history sold all its stocks in a company, due to business ethics. This decision was made after a formal complaint from one of the WSRW's members.
"A particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms e.g. because it may strengthen Morocco's sovereignty claims and thus contribute to undermining the UN peace process". Norwegian Ministry of Finance, 6 June 2005, regarding Kerr-McGee's oil exploration Western Sahara. Read the thorough opinion of the Pension Fund's board of ethics here and press release of from the Norwegian Ministry of Finance here.
When total divestiture were around nearly 70 million dollars, Kerr-McGee finally withdrew from Western Sahara. After Kerr-McGee announced their withdrawal, they were reincluded in the portfolios they had already been excluded from.
Also some of the companies that have taken part in the seismic surveys in Western Sahara (such as TGS-Nopec, Fugro, Thor Offshore) have pulled out after WSRW contact with their shareholders and media. Kosmos uses the seismic data sets elaborated by these three firms.
More information on Kosmos Energy and their operations in Western Sahara can be achieved by sending a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.