Bogor Rabbi asks energy minister while arguing that prevalent drought make
any exploration activities Untenable
By: Yumoha Pasha
Somalilandsun- Ongoing oil exploration strategies are based on taking advantage of drought affected citizens in the country.
This was stated Bogor (King) Rabbi Yusuf Abdilahi in the Somaliland capital where he questioned plans to start oil exploration in the south of Hargeisa by the ministry of energy and minerals.
Over half a million households in Somaliland especially from eastern regions are suffering as a result of severe droughts that has left them destitute after devastation of their livestocks and subsequent internal displacement, a situation that has gone to the extent of justifying postponement of presidential elections initially slated for March to October this year.
According to King Rabbi a prominent traditional leader in the country, the energy minister Eng Hussein Abdi Duale is pursuing oil exploration in Sabowanag, Salahley p, Baligubadle and Odweine Districts.
Querying on why the South of Hargeisa is now the hot target for oil exploration, the King wondered on progress made from similar activities said to have been ongoing in the eastern regions of Sool and Toghdeer.
“We are all aware of the resistance the foreign companies awarded oil exploration and extraction contracts by the government encountered in the east” said the traditional leader.
The ministry of energy and minerals representing the government of Somaliland has entered into Product Sharing Agreements-PSA and subsequent oil exploration contracts to a number of international firms notably, Genel Energy, DNO Norway, Sterling Energy, ANSA WIKFs, RAK Gas and lately BGP China
While the just contracted Chinese firm is currently pursuing contractual obligations in Sahil region, Genel Energy an Anglo-Turkish firm fronted by former BP boss Tony Howard infamous for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and Norway’s DNO have seen their activities in both Sool and Toghdeer regions thwarted by residents.
Stressing on the energy ministry imperatives to address reasons behind the failure of Genel Energy and DNO oil exploration in the two respective eastern regions, before other else, King Rabbi told Minister Hussein Abdi that failure to rectify errors will see same outcome in planned activities in Odweine and Baligubadle.
Similarly the traditional leader wondered on whether the energy minister was unaware of current difficulties engulfing resident of his new target for exploration as pertains the severe drought in those areas.
“Without any doubt, the strategy being utilized by the energy ministry is to coerce unchallenged oil exploration through food distribution to the famine stricken residents of south Hargeisa” said King Rabbi while terming this move as one devoid of compassion and humanity.
Though it has been confirmed that Somaliland contains massive oil deposits attempts worth millions of dollars to explore and undertake seismic studies by Genel energy in Toghdeer and DNO in Sool regions respectively in the past have met with massive resistance from local residents, in some instances resulting in damage to property.
Despite the huge expense by the foreign energy firms whose shares in various stock exchanges gain value whenever their PSAs are renewed, pertains to the haphazard implementation of awareness campaigns by the ministry of energy, thence negative reaction by residents who initially told of massive benefits found themselves surrounded by massive machinery without information not to mention even access to unskilled labour, recruited elsewhere.
While benefits accruable from successful oil extraction are without doubt immense both to the national economy and respective communities , it is also indisputable that the energy ministry need to utilize lessons learned in the initially Toghdeer and Sool exploits as a prelude to successful return and/or eyeing elsewhere in the country.
But even before implementing lessons learned and despite the huge benefits, oil exploration need take a leaf from the democratization process that postponed elections due to prevalent drought in the country.