Island Oil negotiating for exploration permit

The Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas is now negotiating an oil exploration permit in occupied Western Sahara. The unethical talks are done against the interest of the people of Western Sahara, and contribute to violate international law as described by the UN in 2002.
Published: 03.05 - 2009 17:19Printer version    
On 25 February 2009, few days prior to their Annual General Meeting, the Irish oil company Island Oil and Gas announced that negotiations for an oil exploration contract in Western Sahara "are to commence".

Now, the company has confirmed that negotiations for such permit have in fact started. This appeared in a Interim Results report for the period ended 31 January 2009. Download the report here, or read it here.

tn_island_oil_map2_400.jpgThe agreement they are negotiating is "an eight year Exploration Licence, with seismic being planned at an early stage to firm up a potential drilling location on one of the most prospective structures defined by the aeromagnetic survey."

So far, Island Oil and Gas has only had a reconnaissance agreement. The company holds two oil agreements in Western Sahara, one in the north-eastern part, overlapping the city of Smara, another in the north-west, overlapping the city of El Aaiun.

The report also reveals that Island and their partners are preparing to award a contract to reprocess 1000 kilometers of existing 2D data for the Tarfaya block in the north-west, as well as looking to award a contact for 500 km shooting of 2D seismics later this year.

The firm Netherland, Sewell & Associates has made an analysis of the oil prospects in Tarfaya, stating that there is a "Probable Perspective" for oil. It is not known whether the report includes an analysis of the legality or the ethical aspects of the oil search in Western Sahara.

A UN legal opinion from 2002 states that further oil search in Western Sahara would be in violation of international law, if the Sahrawi people's opinion is not taken into account. And it is not. Morocco has brutally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and proceeded handing out oil deals in Western Sahara despite the UN opinion.

Island Oil and Gas is headed by chairman Bryan Benitz, and CEO Paul Griffiths (photo above).

Western Sahara Resource Watch has sent numerous requests to the Island Oil and Gas directors, urging them to be ethical and stop the support to the occupation, but they have so far refused to answer.

More than 500 Sahrawis have disappeared during the illegal Moroccan occupation, and a majority of the Sahrawi people have fled the country under the Moroccan rule. No states in the world recognise Western Sahara as being part of Morocco. Island Oil and Gas believes it is.




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.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy