Friday, December 15, 2006

Irish oil company granted illegal exploratory license in Western Sahara

Western Sahara has seemed quiet lately, but there's a new threat to a fair referendum. On December 12th Island Oil & Gas, an Irish petroleum company, contracted with Morocco for an illegal exploration license in the Western Sahara. This move represents another step in the exploitation of Western Saharan natural resources.

There are three problems with this license. First, it's a dangerous sanctification of Moroccan sovereignty. No country in the world has recognized Western Sahara as a Moroccan province because of the occupation's shaky basis in international law, but corporations like Island Oil & Gas have no such qualms.

Moroccans say, "The Turks stopped in Algiers, and so did the oil." As the only Maghreb country without oil besides the Western Sahara, Morocco is intent on finding oil reserves of its own. If Island or its colleagues find natural gas or oil in the Western Sahara, Morocco will tighten its grip on the Western Sahara.

Finally, the license represents exploitation of resources that legally and morally belong to the Sahrawi people. Even if oil isn't discovered, the reconnaissance licenses are the property of the Sahrawi and their representatives in SADR. The money from these licenses could make life better for marginalized people in the territories or in the camps. Instead, it'll end up in Rabat.

The last time oil exploration licenses were in the news with Western Sahara, French company TotalFinaElf and American company Kerr-McGee had received cushy reconnaissance deals from the Moroccan government. After strong pressure from Sahrawi and international groups, Kerr-McGee canceled its license.

If enough people contact Island, they'll recognize the game isn't worth the (petrol) candle. If they do, there's a Golden Camel with their name on it.

Western Sahara Resource Watch has published an open letter to Island about the license's illegality and the disadvantages Island faces if it pursues reconnaissance.

Map from Island Oil and Gas. Island's grant is in blue.


  1. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Hi All

    Below is an appeal we received today from saharawis informing about situation of one of the saharawi website situation

    We checked it and found that really happened and they informed their visitors in Arabic that they closed the website and they offer the unique laptop to sale !!!

    If any want to know more they put their email there


    One of the most professional Saharawi website in „occupied Western Sahara”
    have been closed due to „financial and logistics „ problems. The only laptop have been offered to sale!
    This website was used to inform world public opinion about human rights in Western Sahara.
    Saharawis appeal to all good people to safe this voice
    Thanking in Advance

  2. They're having financial problems, so they had to close down the site? And they're selling the laptop they used? That's crappy.

    You'll remember that Cahiers was one of the first WSahara websites Morocco blocked, so they had to be doing something right.

  3. Anonymous8:08 AM

    Cahiers du Sahara is not down. They might well need some financial help with computers and digital cameras, etc, but their site is up and running:

    Why not try to give them a hand with some dollars or euro?

    Joe Hill