Somalia is on the cusp of becoming an oil producing state as more reports of oil discovery are announced by Horn Petroleum and Africa Oil, the leading oil explorers in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia.
However, the worry of violence is manifesting with oil companies seeking security analysts to identify threats and provide insight on the way forward.
We have been following events in Somalia,watching from the sidelines and in the thick of it. Our focus has been on the Al-Shabaab and the British government interest in the oil sector.
British intervention in Somalia has not gone down well with several players including Al-Shabaab, Kenya, and sections of Somali leadership and political class.
The interest of the British are only energy resources related and Al-Shabaab has been re-establishing contacts in Puntland to ensure the ongoing exploration activities face difficulties and possibly, a haven for kidnapings like in the Oil delta state in Nigeria.
Al-Shabaab has managed to gain a foothold in Puntland, killing several of its military personnel in the recent past besides establishing a training base in the rough and unreachable mountainous region Galgala.
Former arms trader Mohamed Said Atom and his militia has joined Al-Shabaab and in recent comments by local militia in Puntland, “Africa Oil and Horn activities are illegal and must be stopped.”
‘They cannot just come here and take our resources. The British too, are here too to take our resources which is bad’
These angry sentiments are indicative of a common trend which in the near future, manifest to an onslaught to the exploratory activities of the two companies and their strategic partners.
Exploiting oil and gas resources in Puntland is also posing a significant threat to Somalia.
We have linked the British economic and financial assistance to Somalia and its renewed commitment to restoring stability in Somalia with a secret high-stakes dash for oil in Somalia estimated to be as high as 110 billion barrels of oil and 100 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The British government secretly offered humanitarian aid and security assistance in return for oil exploration and production agreements signed by BP, Asante Oil, and Shell Oil Co licenses to the former Said Barre regime.
Africa Oil and Horn Petroleum will be big losers if the British objectives are achieved with their licenses being canceled and contracts rendered invalid since the British companies mentioned have licenses for the same blocks these companies are exploring. Al-Shabaab’s threats and local militia also pose significant threat to these companies.