WSRW has spotted the surveying vessel, the Dongfang Kantan No. 1, and its attendant ship, the Jan van Gent, exhibiting sailing tracks that can only be for petroleum reservoir identification. The activity is taking place close to the Gargaa well site - the location where Kosmos carried out the first ever oil drilling operation in the history of occupied Western Sahara. Click the photo for a larger screenshot of the Dongfang Kantan No 1's tracks.
In May 2017, Kosmos Energy registered at London Stock Exchange, but when doing so, the company published a highly problematic prospectus. All references to the legal and political risk in operating a licence issued by an occupying power for a territory that is not theirs is removed. See the 2017 prospectus here. To compare, when Kosmos registered at New York Stock Exchange in 2011, a substantial section was given to describe the conflict in Western Sahara. See the Kosmos 2011 prospectus here.
The removal of such key information from the future investors comes at a peculiar
point, less than a year after the UN recognised national liberation movement of Western Sahara has successfully challenged Moroccan agreements and private company involvements in international and national courts. As of today, 178 days have passed since the vessel NM Cherry Blossom was detained by a South African port.
Kosmos Energy operates under an oil licence for the so-called Boujdour Maritime block, granted by ONHYM (Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines) – Morocco’s state-owned oil company. The block is located off the mid-coast of Western Sahara, west of the town of Boujdour, and is a sizeable 29,740.70 km².
In October 2013, Kosmos Energy signed a farm-in agreement with Capricorn Exploration & Development Company Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Scottish oil firm Cairn Energy PLC. Under the deal, Cairn obtained a 20% working interest in the block, reducing Kosmos’ own stake to 55%. The remaining 25% would be held by ONHYM. At that time, Kosmos also announced that it had identified three prospects with the largest called Gargaa, in waters at a depth of 2135 meters. The current exploration is taking place near the Gargaa site.
It was Morocco’s licensing of the Boujdour block to Kerr-McGee - which operated the block before Kosmos took over - that triggered the UN Security Council to commission its legal department to assess the legality of such deals. The resulting 2002 UN Legal Opinion considered exploration and exploitation in Western Sahara to be in violation of international law if such activity was not in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the Saharawi people.
Morocco is holding Western Sahara under illegal military occupation and prevents the self-determination process to conclude. Kosmos has held interests in Western Sahara since 2004, and never sought the consent of the people of the territory as is required.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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.
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.