As the Somaliland minister of energy and Minerals Eng Hussein Abdi Duale brushes aside his alleged corrupt practices in oil contract issuances in an exclusive interview with Somalilandsun (see Video) in which he also reveals the start of organized and legal mining in the country as well as partnership with the DRC government
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The four main foreign firms with oil Product Sharing Contracts –PSC with Somaliland are ready to continue exploration and start extraction operations in the first quarter of 2015 as the ministry of energy gears up for the first legal export of some minerals from Awdal region.
This was informed by the minister of Energy and Minerals Eng Hussein Abdi Duale during an interview with Somalilandsun in his Hargeisa offices where he further revealed that two years of extensive minerals exploration in Awdal region have borne fruit while negating alleged corrupt practices by his ministry emanating from oil contracts to foreign firms.
OIL & GAS
The four foreign firms with PSAs have as per their contractual obligations submitted to the ministry of energy and minerals their divergent annual action plans for 2015 that detail when and what exploration activities shall be undertaken within the coming year and total operational expenditures.
According to Eng Duale the plans were submitted during a meeting in which he was accompanied by his ministry’s director general in Dubai where they had face to face talks with representatives of RAK Gas LLC, DNO and ANSAWikfs all based in the Emirates while the Anglo-Turkish lead firm of Genel Energy participated via teleconference.
“While the foreign contractors provided tangible plans indicting immediate resumption of exploration in the case of Genel energy and start of operations by the other emirates based three, the agreed upon protection remains an issue” said Eng Duale
The Energy minister said that the anticipated commencement of operations by the four firms is yet to be made tenable as the recently established Oil Protection Unit –OPU is yet to come to age for the Government is in the process of finalizing arrangements with Saladin Security the British security company contracted to train the OPU.
From a six hundred page OPU blueprint drafted by Assaye Risk and detailing composition, size, operational parameters and training specialization act the Somaliland National Tender Board-NTB up0n perusal of the six international firms that bid for the $20m training contract selected Saladin
Courtesy of an OPU blueprint prepared by Assaye Risk and upon released of tender to train the specialized force by the Somaliland National Tender Board-NTB that attracted bids from six security firms with international repute Saladin Security won the day thence ongoing arrangements to recruit the 450 members of the unit from Serving army and police officers as a prelude to start of the three months training.
Upon graduation and equipping the OPU which is under the ministry of interior shall be ready for deployment thence the start of much anticipated oil exploration and subsequent drilling activities in Somaliland
Due to its political status as an unrecognized de facto state and due to the security concerns that oil companies have about operating in the Horn of Africa region, it has been challenging for Somaliland to attract oil companies except for a few that have the risk tolerance for operating in such an environment and have experience in operating in similar challenging areas and the OPU shall ensure total security for current PSA operators.
“Before Somaliland gets anything out of the ground, the government of president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo is intend on emulating the successes of countries that managed their resources well and avoid the mistakes that others have made in exploiting their resources” Says Minister Duale who revealed that this was the rationale behind the hiring of a Norwegian law firm to draft a Petroleum legal framework to set a sound foundation to our resource management practices.
The Petroleum legal framework package consists of a Petroleum Policy, an Upstream Petroleum Bill and a Petroleum Revenue Bill which the energy ministry targets to have passed by the Legislature as early as possible in 2015.
Mining and Minerals
The same desire to chart the path of implementing best practices in Somaliland saw the energy minister and his DG visit the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC on a mining familiarization tour facilitated by SOMIKA, a mining company based in the Country.
Said he, “During our visit facilitated by SOMIKA which is in the process of investing locally we toured several mining operations in Lubumbashi region where he acquired immense knowledge on how to run similar operations in our country”
Eng Hussein A Duale also revealed that other fruit of the visit was a meeting with the DRC minister of Mines M. Martin Kabwelulu Labilo who promised his government’s support on issues related to mining.
While on that optimistic beat Eng Duale informed that Somaliland shall within the first six months of 2015 start exporting minerals mined in a legal and modernly organized fashion in partnership with and investment from Africa Resources Corporation-ARC a Hargeisa based Chinese firm with extensive mining experience.
“Between now and the 15th of this month, Dec 014, I shall officially commission the first mining operation to be undertaken in conjunction with ARC at a site in Baki district of Awdal region”
Informing that exploration that took over two years have established the availability of more than half a million tons of Barium mineral in Baki the energy and minerals minister said he can confidently inform that commercial exports will begin with six months as of January 2015.
Said he, “my confidence in the Barite mine in Baki district as the first organized mining operation in the country does not only emanate from proven availability but the financial commitment and expertise of ARC and the approval of the Somaliland council of ministers chaired by president Silanyo as well”
Queried on the issue of another Chinese mining company named Dongsong that had license to operate in the Awdal region the minister who apart from confirming its yet to be explained and abrupt departure from Somaliland, opinionated that the reason was probably pressure (read bribery) from the Somalia federal Government in Mogadishu/
KHATUMO Session and Eastern Regions Oil, Gas and Minerals Exploration
While the minister an American citizen refused to be pulled in a direct answer to the connection between Khatumo session in the east of the country which Somalilandsun believes has some bearing to concessions granted CONOCO the third largest integrated energy company in the US of A and the fifth largest refiner in the world owns concession to some oil fields in Sool region granted by Gen Siad Barre long time ago, had this to say
“Khatumo is really a phantom that exists in the imagination of Ali Khalif Galayd an American Citizen of Somali origin” adding that while the secessionists in the east have no effect on exploration activities most people from the Galayd clan of Dhulbahante are Somalilanders to the core and support government efforts having suffered long under one guise of session or another.
IMPACT OF PLANNED MID 2015 Elections on his plans
The Oil, Gas and mining achievements shall most likely be the rallying call of the ruling Kulmiye party that having performed tremendously in the four and half years it has been in office to date that all even the short sighted can see, the campaign will entail Kulmiye divulging plans of fruits sharing during the second term of president Silanyo
ON ALLEGED CORRUPT PRACTICES and Effects to his Personal Life
“Yusuf my sleep comes to me automatically whenever I go to bed where I sleep like a baby, you know why, because my conscience is clear” said Eng Duale while brushing aside alleged misappropriation of public funds for personal use that he said were a failed calculation to derail his performance.
According to the minister the allegations started with former finance minister Mohamed Elmi Hashi in 2014 when he claimed that Eng Duale had diverted some public finds to his personal account abroad a cry that was later taken to lengths by the proprietor of a now banned newspaper in Somaliland.
Eng Duale who revealed that the current administration in which he serves inherited all Product Sharing Contracts-PSCs apart from two namely DNO and ANSA WIKFS from its predecessor said that the Silanyo administration has received funds from the PSCs amounting to $4.5m which is 24 times more than that of $185,000 by the government of former president Dahir Rayale Kahin
“Since my accusers have failed to prove their allegations against me, I trust that the fact of having generated $4.5m from two PSAs compared to$185,000 from several is proof of how corrupt one cannot get” said the energy minister as he revealed that his personal wallet was hefty before he was appointed minister four years ago.
Terming it as an impossible feat thence to be entered in the world Guinness book of records, for anyone anywhere to corruptly accrue returns from products that have not been harvested but still under investigation to proof existence like Oil in Somaliland, Eng Duale said that he did not leave a six figures job in the USA to come and siphon out much needed public funds from Somaliland.
“Without dwelling much on the myth of corruption in my ministry let it be known that I am country boy at heart having been born in the countryside, specifically in the Saraar Region of Somaliland to a nomadic family, and care very much for our indigenous way of life which coupled with my training as skills as an Oil engineer was the motivation behind leaving my family and six figures job in the states thence assume duties of a political appointee as minister of Energy and Minerals” said Eng Hussein Abdi Duale concluding with Somalilanders to unite and commit to their country as one.
What tangible things has the ministry of Energy and minerals and its minister achieved in 4 ½ years as opposed to what was not achieved in the 19 years prior since Somaliland gained its independence.
According to gthe country born Oil Engieenr the following
• put Somaliland on the map as an extractive industry destination
• We have taken Somaliland’s name to international oil & gas and mining arenas that it has never been to before
• Despite our lack of recognition, we were able to attract four (4) international oil & gas companies some of which are publicly traded companies to operate in Somaliland. The seismic exploration work is now pending the establishment of an OPU to provide security to these operations. The MoI, Mr. Ali Waran’ade, who is with us here today, will clarify the OPU matter which is also widely misunderstood.
• We are well on our way to begin our first commercial mining operation in Somaliland’s history.
• And we have set the stage for Somaliland to make an oil discovery in the coming few years.