Upstream Online: Total turns its back on Dakhla block, 2004
Published: 26.06 - 2010 19:52Printer version    
Total turns its back on Dakhla block
-French company decides not to renew licence off Western Sahara

December 3, 2004

TOTAL has not renewed its reconnaissance licence for the Dakhla block off Western Sahara, just south of Kerr-McGee's Boujdour permit.

The French company's contract with Morocco's Office for Hydrocarbons & Mines (ONHYM) expired on 18 November, although Western Sahara activists argue Rabat had no authority to issue licences.

Oslo-based activists in the Western Sahara Support Group claimed the move as a victory for its campaign.

"Two of the seismic companies TGS-Nopec and the Fugro Group which worked for Total and KMG, have recently decided not to proceed with this work due to the problematic ethical, political and legal aspects of such activities," the group said.

Kerr-McGee has not publicly indicated whether it has applied to renew its own permit, which was due to expire last month. The oil company declined to comment on industry rumours that unnamed US independents were considering options to farm in to Dakhla.

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, passed rapidly into the hands of Moroccan occupying forces after Spain left in 1976.

Since then, Polisario fighters have sought independence through an armed struggle and later through United Nations-sponsored negotiations.

The UN Legal Office has outlawed oil and gas drilling but left open the question of preliminary seismic exploration.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic's (SADR) Foreign Affairs Ministry this week insisted Kerr-McGee should end its "illegal operations" in Western Sahara immediately.

"No oil company should deal with the Moroccan government with respect to Western Sahara as no country or organisation recognises Morocco's sovereignty over the territory," the spokesman said.

South Africa recently joined African giants Nigeria and Algeria in recognising the SADR, leaving Rabat diplomatically isolated in Africa over the Western Sahara issue.

Alone on the continent, Morocco is not a member of the African Union. Last week it criticised neighbouring Algeria over its continuing support for the Polisario militia.




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.
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. News Archive 2020 News Archive 2019 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