Destabilization fears over Somalia's first oil deal

Published: Sept. 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- There are growing concerns that a groundbreaking oil exploration contract between the Western-backed transitional government of war-torn Somalia and a British-registered company could further destabilize the East African country.
But, as U.N. investigators warned this year, the worry is that oil exploration across the shattered state, torn by clan wars and Islamist insurgency since 1991, risks "exacerbating clan divisions and therefore threaten peace and security."

"Oil companies should cease and desist negotiations with Somali authorities," the U.N. Monitoring Group cautioned the U.N. Security Council in July.

Soma Oil and Gas Exploration, headed by Lord Michael Howard, a former leader of Britain's ruling Conservative Party, signed Somalia's first deal with an international oil company, albeit an untested one, Aug. 6. The agreement gives Soma, formed in July, the right to apply for as many as 12 oil blocks in an area the Financial Times says oil majors consider "one of the final frontiers for the commodity."

Soma is expected shortly to launch a seismic survey of onshore and offshore locations.
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