San Leon hits gas in occupied Western Sahara

Irish oil company San Leon Energy's exploratory drilling operation in occupied Western Sahara revealed the presence of gas, but thus far not of petroleum. The company will apply for a new licence with the Moroccan government and announces further seismic surveys to explore the potential petroleum reservoirs.
Published: 01.10 - 2015 09:25Printer version    
San Leon Energy yesterday announced its interim results for the first six months of 2015, in which it also commented on its recent drilling operation in occupied Western Sahara. The company's press release states that "post reporting period, the Laayoune-4 well on the Tarfaya conventional licence, onshore Morocco, was drilled and suspended with gas shows, pending further seismic work".

The company is planning to acquire a 3D seismic survey of the prospect and may consider re-entering the well based on the results of this survey.

"We are very pleased with the results of the Laayoune-4 well. Confirming the presence of gas shows and good reservoir quality is encouraging for the potential of the block and leads naturally to applying for a new eight year licence in the area, which would allow for seismic acquisition to be performed over the full channel complex," said San Leon's CEO Oisin Fanning.

San Leon Energy obtained its licence for the Tarfaya oil block from the Moroccan government, even though the block is only partially located in Morocco proper. The lion share of the block is located just south of Morocco's southern border, in Western Sahara, often referred to as Africa's last colony. Morocco has a large military presence in threequarters of the territory and has enforced its administration there. No country in the world recognises Morocco's sovereignty claim over the territory, which had been refuted by the International Court of Justice back in 1975, just days before Morocco invaded Western Sahara.

The people of Western Sahara, who have an internationally recognised right to determine the future status of the territory and its resources, have time and again protested San Leon's collaboration with Morocco in their occupied homeland. The company however says that the Saharawis are "not a representative people" and refuses to even engage in dialogue with them. As is evident from the above quoted press release, San Leon considers El Aaiun to be located in Morocco. The company thereby adopts the views of the Moroccan government, whom it actively assists in its colonisation of Western Sahara through engaging in Morocco's oil quest in the territory.

The El Aaiun well results come at a time when San Leon is experiencing financial dire straits, and is said to consider a potential take-over bid.


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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents. News Archive 2018 News Archive 2017 News Archive 2016 News Archive 2015 News Archive 2014 News Archive 2013 News Archive 2012 News Archive 2011 News Archive 2010 News Archive 2009 News Archive 2008 News Archive 2007 News Archive 2004-2006

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