On 6 December 2012, Total’s one year reconnaissance licence on the Anzarane block offshore occupied Western Sahara came to an end. The French multinational had during that year contracted a subsidiary of the Chinese state oil company CNPC to carry out the seabed exploration work, WSRW revealed.
Now, the seismic survey vessel BGP Prospector, is back on Total’s block. The vessel restarted its operations only few days after Total stated it had renewed the agreement. BGP Prospector is accompanied by the Vanuatu flagged supply vessel St.John (IMO number 8521713) and the South African flagged seismic guard vessel Bella (IMO number 8003498). BGP Prospector is currently towing several kilometers long cables to shoot the seismic.
The operations are continuing even though any further exploration work in Western Sahara is in violation of international law according to the UN.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) sent a letter to Total on 7 December 2012, with the following questions. WSRW awaits an answer from the company:
a) Does Total agree that the Sahrawi people, as the sole and original inhabitants of Western Sahara until the occupation in 1975, have the permanent right of sovereignty to their natural resources? b) Does Total agree that the 2002 legal opinion, which your company refers to, establishes that the Saharawi people need to consent prior to the signing of further oil related exploration agreements in Western Sahara? c) Has Total ever tried to seek the consent of the Saharawi people? If yes, how and when? If no, why not? d) Does Total agree with concerned investors that signing such oil agreements risks undermining the UN efforts to solve the conflict in the territory?
WSRW also sent a letter to CNPC’s subsidiary BGP, and is awaiting response also from them.
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.
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.
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.
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.