Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regional Control

I didn't know there is oil in Somalia. Or the potential --

Yesterday (or today, maybe) a bill backed by the president of Somalia split the parliament -- According to an article on All Africa.com there was an even split and the speaker voted to break the tie. "President Muse's bill, entitled the "The Oil and Minerals Law of Puntland State Government," aims to award the regional administration the constitutional authority to sign agreements with foreign companies intent on exploring for oil in Puntland."

I did some reading about the history of the place. There have been ideas of oil there for a long time -- there have been suspected oil reserves for many years in Somalia -- all the war and the crisis there has deterred most speculators.

An article last year in the Financial Times explained:

"In the late 1980s exploration concessions were held by companies including Conoco and Phillips, which have since merged; Amoco, now part of BP; and Chevron. They fled the country after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown during civil war in 1991.

The data collected by oil companies has formed the basis of interest in Somalia today. Range Resources, an oil group listed in Sydney, estimates that the Puntland province – which includes the Mudug region – has the potential to yield 5bn-10bn barrels of oil."

I didn't see Blackhawk down -- I guess I should. It seems that oil had everything to do with American involvement in the area.

So the question is, who will have the future stakes in the country -- and who will decide.

In 2005 the president of Somalia, whose bill was in question, "unilaterally signed an exploration contract with a small Australian company to explore for oil and minerals in Somalia's Puntland region."

Local tribes are against it. Parts of the government.

A split vote. It's a tough call -- who makes the decisions for a people -- for which people do they speak and who are the beneficiaries -- victims...

1 comment:

elisa.mart said...

to say nothing of the fact that any notion of "the president," "the government," and "the law" has to be formally decoupled from the meaning those terms have for us here, in the US (or in Australia, Canada, the UK, and other locations that will seek to hold these contracts and concessions up as legal and binding on the people of a very in-flux Somalia and Puntland).