By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Oilfield Protection Unit (“OPU”) established by the Government of the Republic of Somaliland is has completed training and fully equipped for duties.
This was revealed by the minister of interior Mohamed Ali Waran’ade during a press briefing in his Hargeisa offices where he also allayed fears within some international community circles that the OPU shall be used to destabilize neighbouring countries, read the Somalia regional administration of Puntland that borders Somaliland to the east.
Said he, “OPU has been established to provide the level of security required by the in-country Energy sector operators so that future seismic and drilling operations can be conducted safely” as he confirmed that the unit is now ready to start its work.
The interior minister who was in apparent reference to fears raised over the OPU in a May 28 memorandum by UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea which stated that plans by the Somaliland authorities to deploy OPU might strain tensions stoked by Territorial disputes with Puntland as well as with secessionists in Sool region of Somaliland.
According to Waran’ade the establishment and subsequent planned deployment of OPU came after request by several international companies with oil prospecting and concession contracts in Somaliland among then Genel, RAK Gas, Sterling energy, DNO, ANKSA WIKF and Jacka resources etc
Informing that the administration has resolved issues with some rebellious clans in Sool region through the now perfected homegrown peace-building mechanisms the interior minister Mohamed Ali Waran’ade also revealed that the republic of Somaliland depends on its armed forces for national defense thence not requiring a small unit of less than 300 officers to do so.
According to reliable sources within the government in Hargeisa the Elite OPU rained by Briton Iain Cholerton who is an independent expert on security and defense issues and Former UK Special Forces officer, is not only ready for duties but has standing orders to deter from any other activities except those related to facilitating safety for both locals and foreigners in the employee of companies with oil concession contracts within Somaliland.
The government’s acknowledgement of the operationalized OPU comes in the heels of a move by DNO Norway to initiate its contractual agreements as pertains to exploration of its Block 18.