Drilling plans onshore Western Sahara

Morocco plans to carry out exploration drilling onshore occupied Western Sahara.
Published: 01.06 - 2009 22:21Printer version    
In January, Western Sahara Resource Watch wrote that Morocco had issued several new licences for exploration onshore Western Sahara.

Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco, and the issuing of such licences is taking place in disregard of international law, as summarized in a legal opinion from the United Nations in 2002.

Now, more details of Morocco’s plans have been released.

onhym_plans.jpgFor the Boujdour onshore block, which ONHYM awarded to itself probably as early as in 2007, there are plans for exploration drilling and seismic interpretation some time during 2009.

The drilling is a so-called stratigraphic core test (puits stratigraphique), which is done to establish the nature of the geology of an area, in order to find out whether it can potentially contain oil/gas or not.

There are also plans of seismic 2D acquisition on the Island/San Leon/Longreach blocks in the El Aaiun area - or the so-called "Tarfaya block".

This information was given in a presentation on 6 March 2009 during a conference in Rabat arranged by the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment. Download the entire conference programme here.

The information was given by M'Hamed El Mostaine, Director of Exploration at ONHYM, in a speech called “L’exploration petrolière au Maroc: Des Potentialités Peu Explorées". Download the speech here.

In addition to the already mentioned ONHYM blocks and the Island/San Leon/Longreach block in the El Aaiun area, there is currently one more onshore operation in Western Sahara, in Smara, by the same Island/San Leon/Longreach consortium. ONHYM has also announced that there are plans of issuing licences onshore the Dakhla area.

The major part of Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in the period from 1975 to 1979.

The below decree appeared in the Moroccan government's Bulletin Officiel n° 5544, 19 July 2007, page 943. Download the bulletin here.  Similar decrees were made for onshore Blocks I to XIII.

Arrêté du ministre de l'énergie et des mines n° 813-07 du 5 rabii II 1428 (23 avril 2007) accordant le permis de recherche des hydrocarbures dit "Boujdour Onshore I" à l'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines.


Vu la loi n° 21-90 relative à la recherche et à l'exploitation des gisements d'hydrocarbures, promulguée par le dahir n° 1-91-118 du 27 ramadan 1412 (1er avril 1992), telle qu'elle a été modifiée et complétée par la loi n° 27-99 promulguée par le dahir n° 1-99-340 du 9 kaada 1420 (15 février 2000), notamment ses articles 4, 22 et 24 ;
Vu la loi n° 33-01 portant création de l'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines promulguée par le dahir n° 1-03-203 du 16 ramadan 1424 (11 novembre 2003) ;
Vu le décret n° 2-04-372 du 16 kaada 1425 (29 décembre 2004) pris pour l'application de la loi n° 33-01 portant création de l'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines, notamment son article 2 ;
Vu le décret n° 2-93-786 du 18 joumada I 1414 (3 novembre 1993) tel que modifié et complété par le décret n° 2-99-210 du 9 hija 1420 (16 mars 2000) pris pour l'application de la loi n° 21-90 susvisée, notamment ses articles premier, 2, 6, 7 et 9 ;
Vu la demande du permis de recherche d'hydrocarbures dit "Boujdour Onshore I" déposée le 9 mars 2007 par l'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines,

Arrête :

Article premier : Il est accordé à lOffice national des hydrocarbures et des mines, le permis de recherche d'hydrocarbures dit "Boujdour Onshore I".

Article 2 : Les limites du permis visé à l'article premier ci-dessus, qui couvre une superficie de 1759,8 km2 telles qu'elles figurent sur la carte annexée à l'original du présent arrêté, sont définies comme suit :

a) Par les lignes droites joignant successivement les points 1, 2, 3 et 4 de coordonnées Lambert zone III Datum Merchich suivantes :
Points X Y
1 intersection côte 499 000
2 396 000 499 000
3 396 000 455 000
4 intersection côte 455 000
b) par la ligne des plus basses eaux joignant le point 4 au point 1.

Article 3 : Le permis de recherche Boujdour Onshore I est délivré pour une période initiale de quatre années à compter de sa date de notification à l'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines.

Article 4 : Le présent arrêté sera notifié à l'intéressé et publié au Bulletin officiel.

Rabat, le 5 rabii II 1428 (23 avril 2007).

Mohamed Boutaleb.




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.
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