Kenya could lose 7 oil blocks in Somalia dispute

As a maritime border dispute between the Somali government and Kenya heads to the international court of justice seven oil blocks currently held by Kenya are part of the determination expected by The Hague based ICJ.

Part of the dispute is a triangle of water stretching more than 100,000 a sq kilometers (approx. 40,000 sq miles) of which Kenya has awarded exploration contracts to various international companies.

Among blocks likely to be affected by the dispute include Blocks L5, L21, L22, L23, L24 and L26 some of which are licenced to companies including Eni, Andarko and Total.

Part of the argument is whether the two countries should decide the border using the equidistant line which would see Somalia’s maritime border extend South East unlike the current situation where the border extends eastwards, or a historical perspective.

Somalia explains that, accordingly, the boundary line in the territorial sea “should be a median line as specified in Article 15, since there are no special circumstances that would justify departure from such a line” and that, in the EEZ and continental shelf, the boundary “should be established according to the three-step process the Court has consistently employed in its application of Articles 74 and 83.”

“Kenya’s current position on the maritime boundary is that it should be a straight line emanating from the Parties’ land boundary terminus, and extending due east along the parallel of latitude on which the land boundary terminus sits, through the full extent of the territorial sea, EEZ and continental shelf, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles],” reads an application by Somalia.

Kenya which has already hired various local and international lawyers is yet to respond to Somalia’s petition with the filing of documents expected in the coming Weeks according to Kenya’s attorney general Prof. Githu Muigai.

“A preliminary meeting at the International Court of Justice is expected by the end of the month. But we are flying out next week on Wednesday for consultations with our international experts,” Muigai is quoted by the Business Daily.

But with a legal outcome not expected anytime soon both countries are set to lose from financial gains as well as geological data as the license holders are likely to hold on exploration due to its financial and contractual risks.

Kenya and Somalia have been in contention for the maritime border for years now with the last agreed decision by the two countries rejected by the Somali government leading to the current  tussle.

Author: Samuel Kamau Mbote

4 thoughts on “Kenya could lose 7 oil blocks in Somalia dispute

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