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Report

Somalia new oil law raises stakes ahead of Kenya border talks

Somalia has unveiled a new legal framework to guide exploitation of its oil and gas blocks.

Feb 12th · 1 min read
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Somalia has unveiled a new legal framework to guide exploitation of its oil and gas blocks ahead of the June hearing of a raging maritime boundary dispute with Kenya.

A statement distributed by Somalia’s petroleum and mineral resources ministry Monday said the “landmark law” ratified by President Mohamed Farmajo on February 7 “confirms the sovereign rights of Somalia to explore, develop, produce, utilise and manage its onshore and offshore petroleum resources.”

“The petroleum law demonstrates the capacity of the Somali people to unite in an historic effort to work together to build an equitable, prosperous and peaceful nation,” said President Farmajo.“

In supporting this law, our democratic institutions have renewed their commitment to work for all Somalis and advance the cause of continued reconstruction.”The law includes provisions that the country’s oil and gas will belong “exclusively” to the Somali people.

It also embeds a revenue-sharing agreement that ensures sales will be distributed among the Somali people through the Federal states, “and for the benefit of future generations.”

The war-torn country is embroiled in a maritime boundary case pitting Kenya and Somalia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Somalia had previously moved to auction oil blocks in the disputed maritime region but investors opted to stay away in the absence of a legal framework to guide their operations.

The ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, on October 18, 2019 will hear the case from June 8 this year after it agreed to postpone oral proceedings following a request by Kenya.

Somalia wants the ICJ to redraw the Indian Ocean boundary between the two countries from the current straight line to a diagonal flow.

In its application, which was accompanied by three sketch maps, Somalia contended that both States “disagree about the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap”, and asserted that “diplomatic negotiations, in which their respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement”.

The disputed area is about 100,000km square said to contain hydrocarbon reserves. Reports that Somali had auctioned off oil blocks in the disputed territory sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. Initially, they had been due to take place between November 4 and 8, 2019.

last updated: 2020-02-12@01:02