WSRW asks Morocco to comment Libya role

A now sanctioned Gadaffi firm planned to look for oil in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW today asked Morocco to clarify the role of their Libyan partner.
Published: 01.08 - 2011 08:02Printer version    
Muammar Gaddafi’s firm Tamoil had big plans in occupied Western Sahara in partnership with the Moroccan government.

A firm called Tamoil Assakia (also known under name Tamoil Sakia), in 2007 or 2008 signed one or several agreements with the Moroccan government. This firm is controlled by Tamoil Africa Holdings Limited, which manages the Tamoil Group’s investments on the African continent.

Tamoil Africa Holdings Limited (a.k.a. Oil Libya Holding Company) is in turn a subsidiary of the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio. Since these firms are considered a potential source of funding for the Muammar Gaddafi regime, they are since recently subjected to UN and EU sanctions.

The partnership between the now sanctioned Libyan company and the Moroccan government were on two fronts. First, Tamoil agreed to set up a network of 50 petrol stations and storage facilities in Western Sahara, for a cost of 77 million dollars.

According to the Moroccan weekly La Vie Eco, 25 July 2008, the project would cover infrastructure “in the cities of El Aaiun, Boujdour and Dakhla for a value of one billion dirham”.  The three cities lie in the territory that Morocco occupied in 1975. The agreement is also mentioned in an October 2008 report on the main achievements of the Moroccan Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Oil exploration
More interestingly, in addition to building petrol infrastructure, the partnership seemingly also covered oil exploration. Such activity is in violation of international law, according to the UN. Tamoil Assakia “envisages to invest in offshore and onshore oil exploration”, the Moroccan government webpages stated in 2008.

Several media, such as Spanish news service Capital News, reported that 100-150 million dollars would be invested by the Libyans in the oil programme.

The company “envisaged to invest between 100 and 150 million dollars in oil search in South Morocco and in infrastructure for petroleum distribution in the region”. These investments, scheduled for the first two years of the project “would be doubled in case of an oil find in the southern provinces of the Kingdom”, stated Tamoil Sakia’s CEO, Salem Bayet Al Mai to the media in Rabat, during one of his visits to Morocco. The news appeared in the Moroccan newspaper Le Matin, following a release from Moroccan government run info channel MAP. Morocco regularly refers to Western Sahara as “Southern Morocco” or its “Southern provinces”.

The first steps of the Moroccan-Libyan cooperation would entail onshore exploration, before continuing offshore, according to the CEO. The Tamoil projects were done “in the framework of a partnership between Morocco and Libya”. According to the Tamoil CEO, Morocco was “one of the prioritised countries” for Tamoil’s mother firm.

Tamoil denied
In an interview with Reuters, as the controversial partnership was known, Tamoil “emphatically rejected” the media reports about an oil investment deal in Western Sahara. “It did not sign any agreement on oil exploration permits in Western Sahara and it has no plan to invest in any oil operations there”, it was stated 26 December 2007.

One Moroccan newspaper stated in March this year that Tamoil’s projects in Morocco were never to materialise.

Yet, the previously mentioned information of Tamoil’s plans in Western Sahara still remains on the Moroccan government’s webpages.

In a letter to the Moroccan state oil company, ONHYM, today, Western Sahara Resource Watch asked of details regarding its partnership with the Gaddafi firm. WSRW enquired whether the sanctioned firm indeed holds rights for oil exploration in the occupied territory, and how these plans now are to continue.

“Since your partner, Tamoil, has now been subject to international sanctions, will this mean that your cooperation with the firm covering the occupied parts of Western Sahara now will terminate?”,  WSRW asked.

Download the full letter here.




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