San Leon carries ahead

UN has said that looking for oil in Western Sahara is illegal. But the Irish firm San Leon Energy moves steadily forwards. Drilling underway next year.
Published: 07.04 - 2010 21:55Printer version    
san_leon_march2010_2_350.jpgThe Irish firm that looks for oil in occupied Western Sahara, San Leon Energy, is every year closer to drilling in the territory.

San Leon works in total disregard of the UN legal advice and of the wishes of the people living in the occupied territory. The firm has signed agreements with the Moroccan government for oil exploration on the occupied land. The company has, however, never consulted representatives of the Saharawis, which the UN prescribes.

In a presentation from mid March 2010, written by San Leon’s CEO Phil Thompson, the firm states that they have plans to soon carry out seismic surveys in both their blocks in occupied Western Sahara. Next year they will drill.

The presentation can be downloaded here.

For the Zag basin, in the north east part of Western Sahara, the company states to acquire 500 km of 2D seismic in the 3rd quarter of 2010, proceeding with drilling first well in 2011. The firm estimates the gas reserves in Zag to be more than 10 trillion cubic feet, and the oil reserves at 500 million barrels.

It also states that a gas discovery has been made to the south of the Zag block, basically on the border between the Moroccan controlled and Polisario controlled parts of Western Sahara. It is not known when and by whom this finding was done.

meriem_mghizlat__280.jpgFor the Tarfaya block in the area around El Aaiun, San Leon mentions that it plans to acquire 500 km of 2D seismic in 4th quarter or 2010, proceeding with drilling in 2011. It states that 2,293 km of 2D is already made.

San Leon also states it plans first testing of production of oil at Tarfaya later this year, or in 2011.

Interestingly, San Leon also mentioned an oil discovery made by the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM to the south of Boujdour.

The presentation was written few days after one of many peaceful Saharawi demonstrations were attacked by Moroccan police. Meriem Mghizlat (right) was beaten by the police, together with a dozen other Saharawi in a demonstration for the respect of their right to self-determination. Meriem lives exactly on the block where San Leon has its licence, and where the firm plans to look for oil in partnership with the occupying power.

No states have recognised the Moroccan claims to Western Sahara, which have even been rejected by the International Court of Justice. More than 100 resolutions from the UN demand self-determination for the Saharawi people, a right which also covers the territory's natural resources.




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