Somalia: Somaliland defends Genel Energy’s ‘exploration rights’ for oil and gas

The government of Somaliland, a self-declared republic in northern Somalia, has rejected a claim by the Somali government that Genel Energy, a British oil and gas exploration and production company, has no right to explore for oil in the self-proclaimed state within Somalia.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Somalia called Genel Energy’s claim to own petroleum rights in Somalia’s northern regions “illegal” and urged the company to “cease its illegal claim.”

The Ministry stated that it was the only institution with the legal authority to grant permits in Somalia, and any authorization granted in violation of Somalia’s laws and regulations would be “null and void.”

The government of Somaliland, however, has defended Genel Energy’s operations and rejected the Somali government’s claim.

In a statement, the Somaliland government affirmed its commitment to sustainably develop its natural resources and working closely with foreign investors such as Genel Energy, OPIC Somaliland Corporation, and RAK GAS.

Ministry of Energy and Minerals of Somaliland emphasized its authority to engage with these investors and to award exploration licenses within its borders, stating that “any authorization granted in violation of Somaliland’s laws and regulations would be considered null and void.”

“Somaliland will continue to have bilateral agreements with international investors. It is not the first time that the weak administration of Somalia has unsuccessfully attempted to lay claim to our country’s resources and tried to obstruct our economic progress despite numerous agreements not to politicize the development of the two countries, as evidenced by their unsuccessful attempts to halt the development of Berbera Port, the creation of Somaliland development fund, and our engagement with oil exploration firms,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“We will continue to engage and work closely with our international partners, such as Genel Energy, OPIC Somaliland Corporation (CPC Corporation), RAK GAS, and others, on our shared interest without fear or favor. Somaliland is equipped with capacities of both deterrence and resilience, allowing it to combat interference from those who seek to impede our progress,” it added.

Genel Energy signed an exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) with the government of Somaliland in 2015, covering an area of approximately 17,000 square kilometers in the Cal Madow region of eastern Somaliland.

The company has made several significant discoveries in this region, including the Cal Madow and Nugal reservoirs, and in 2018 announced a “world-class” natural gas discovery at the Cal Madow-2 well, with estimated resources of 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas. Genel Energy is currently working on a feasibility study for a regional gas-to-power project.

Somaliland is a region located in the northwest of Somalia. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but is not recognized as an independent country by the international community.

The region has a long history of self-governance and has its own government, parliament, and constitution. However, it lacks international recognition and is not a member of the United Nations.