A rift has emerged between Kenya and Somalia over an alleged licensing round by the horn of Africa country in which Nairobi accuses its neighbor of licensing some contentious blocks in the Indian Ocean.
According to Kenya the London auction that took place on the 7th February 2019 and which was led by the Petroleum Minister Abdirashid Mohamed involved auctioning of oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area that borders Somalia
Already the Kenyan government has summoned its Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia Amb. Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo to Nairobi as well as sent a protest (demarche to Ambassador of Somalia in Nairobi. According to the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Macharia Kamau the licensing in a heavily worded statement the licensing round was an “unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya… and tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and its resources.”
A map appearing on Spectrum’s press release on November 8th 2018 show that Somalia’s licensing round included the contentious triangle in dispute by both Kenya and Somalia which a suit lodged by Somalia ongoing in the International Court of Justice.
Asked by the BBC ahead of the conference on the auction rumors Abdirashid denied plans to auction any oil blocks during the Spectrum sponsored oil and gas conference terming the event an opportunity to reveal details of the 2D seismic acquisition exercise and the legal and regulatory framework. Notably the 2D seismic facilitated by Soma Oil & Gas limited was headed by the country’s current Prime Minister ahead of his appointment to Government.
On Sunday Somalia’s foreign Ministry also denied selling off any oil blocks adding that such activities will only be undertaken once the International Court of Justice gives a verdict on the case before it.
“Somalia regrets a statement by Kenya alleging that the Government of Somalia is “proffering to bid” any blocks in Kenya’s potential maritime zones to external bidders,” said Somalia’s foreign affairs minister Ahmed Isse Awad in a statement.
Somalia has also condemned the expulsion of its ambassador from Nairobi terming it a ‘hasty decision’ and ‘without proper consultation.’
Back home the government had also seen opposition ahead of the London conference with the senate terming the conference illegal. The Upper House’s national resource committee in a statement termed the summit unconstitutional and against the law warning that any auction could have “extremely serious consequences” given the country lacks a petroleum law and regulations according to Garowe Online news site.
“According to the article 44 of the constitution which clarifies the scheme of the resource sharing is still uncompleted and besides there is a dispute between the regional states and the central Government,” read the statement.
In London protesters accused the government of trying to illegally sell offshore oil exploration zones with some protesters even accusing Spectrum of trying to ignite another resource related conflict.
OilNews Kenya can confirm that Spectrum has since put out a new map (below) with only 15 licensing blocks on offer and referring to the current agreed map and withdrawing from the contentious 100,000 square km triangle.