According to the UN, any further oil search in Western Sahara is in violation of international law. The oil industry in the territory is seen as highly unethical, contributing to uphold the Moroccan occupation of the territory. Half the people of the territory fled as a consequence of the Moroccan invasion in the territory.
No state in the world, nor the UN, view Western Sahara as part of Morocco. Yet, the US operator and its new UK partner on the Boujodour block seem to be of a different opinion. Both Kosmos and Cairn in a statement issued on 28 October states its partnership on the Boujdour block “offshore Morocco”.
“Under the terms of the farm-in agreement, which is subject to Morocco Government approval, Cairn will pay a promoted share of future exploration costs, towards a 3D seismic survey, an exploration well planned for 2014 and, if successful, two appraisal wells, all subject to a maximum expenditure cap“ Cairn wrote.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) deeply regrets these news about the involvement of Cairn and the new drilling plans.
"This is sad news for the people of Western Sahara. Cairn and Kosmos are cementing the sufferings and exile of the Saharawi people and obviously fail to take any ethical concerns. Their contractual partner, the Moroccan government, will not respect the rights of the people of Western Sahara, as long as they are ever closer to finding oil in the occupied territory", said Erik Hagen, chair of WSRW.
WSRW also questions how the oil companies involved currently deeply mislead the investor community.
"We find it strange that publicly listed companies would so untruly report about their activities. The statements issued give the impression that the Boujdour block is in Morocco proper. It is not. These companies are entering into a deal with an occupying power in its neighbouring territory. They not only mislead about the geographical location about the exploration area, but also highly mislead about the risks involved in this unethical deal", Hagen said .
Through the farm-in, Cairn has taken a 20 percent working interest in the block, reducing Kosmos’ former interest to 55 percent. The exploration well could be covered up to a maximum 125 million USD, and the two more appraisal wells at a max 100 million USD each. The exploration well is planned for the second half of 2014.
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.