Chinese Geron Energy might take over block in occupied Western Sahara

Irish oil company San Leon confirms that an unknown Chinese investor is sniffing on a majority stake in the company. San Leon is looking for oil in occupied Western Sahara, in violation of international law.
Published: 04.01 - 2017 09:35Printer version    
Above: From San Leon's onshore seismic programme in Zag, 2011-2012

San Leon holds one - or two - oil licences in occupied Western Sahara. The agreement - or agreements - were signed with the government of Morocco.

As late as 21 December 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union concluded in a landmark judgement that Morocco has no right to enter into agreements in Western Sahara without first seeking the consent of the representatives of the people of the territory. The court quoted the International Court of Justice and resolutions from the United Nations. The territory is defined as an unresolved colonial issue by the UN.

San Leon Energy, however, is of a very different opinion. The Irish company has stated to the media that the Western Sahara people "is not a representative people", and that the oil company works for the "long term interest of Morocco".

According to its website, San Leon Energy holds the majority stake in the blocks Tarfaya and Zag.

Read also: Thousands of Saharawis protest against San Leon Energy
Massive numbers of Saharawi refugees gathered to send a clear message to Irish oil company San Leon Energy which is looking for oil in their occupied homeland: "San Leon: go home".
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The Moroccan state owned company ONHYM has over the last 6 months hinted that the Tarfaya licence is no longer operated by San Leon.

The operation(s) in Western Sahara now could be ending up in new hands.

In a statement 21 December 2016, following media speculations, San Leon "confirms that Geron Energy Investment is a party to the Offeror" and that "talks are at a preliminary stage and there are significant uncertainties as to whether or not the matter will proceed further".

However, it is not really known who Geron is.

"The market does not believe this offer will materialise and hence is heavily risking the likelihood. The first issue is the bidder, Geron Energy Investment. Anyone heard of them? There is not much of a record of them on the internet, the only presence I could find is at, but I’m not convinced this is the party named", Shareinvestors wrote on 22 December.

"Final comment to my opening concern, San Leon did also ‘confirm that Geron Energy Investment is a party to the Offeror’. This to me suggest Geron are an agent to an ultimate buyer, this may explain why no one has the foggiest about who Geron are. Who therefore is the real interested party?", it was stated.

The company that could take over San Leon will get the entire people of Western Sahara to deal with.

In 2015, as the San Leon Energy was drilling the first ever onshore well in the history of the Moroccan occupation of the territory, thousands of Western Sahara refugees protested the operation. If Tarfaya has not been renewed, San Leon still holds one licence in the territory, the Zag licence. Drilling in the territory without respecting the wishes of the people of the territory is a clear violation of international law. The world's biggest sovereign wealth fund dumped San Leon due to ethics last year. Other ethical investors in Europe have followed suit.  

And in 2016, the national liberation movement Polisario proved its ability to take cases before European courts.

Leading opponents of Moroccan plundering of the territory are serving life-time in Moroccan jails for a protest that took place on a location called Gdeim Izik, located inside the Tarfaya oil licence. Their case is to be re-tried on 23 January. One of those serving a 30 year trial was sentenced after torture, according to the UN, and for a crime that was to have committed after he was jailed. So far he - and 22 others - have spent six years in jail.




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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