Western Sahara is part of Morocco, San Leon states before drilling
Article image
Irish/UK oil company San Leon Energy stated to Irish media today that next month's drilling is located in "Moroccan Southern Provices". Only one government in the world labels the occupied territory in similar way: Morocco. Irish lawyers warn of legal steps.
Published 13 July 2015


San Leon Energy stated to Irish Independent today, that their partnership with Morocco will be to the benefit Morocco and to the solution of the conflict. Its remarkably political terminology. It seems to disagree with investors who state that such oil industry undermines the UN peace process though its support to the illegal Moroccan occupation.

The Independent quoted San Leon with the following:

"San Leon's operations are in keeping with our obligations under international law and work for the betterment of all persons in the Southern Provinces of Morocco. [..] Our operations in the Southern Provinces are in line with fundamental ethical norms, and actions to inhibit them are not merely incorrect but work counter to the interests of the local population and against the final resolution of conflict. [..] The well we are now seeking to drill will ultimately determine if there are commercial quantities of hydrocarbon resources in the area. [..] To object to our operations here, as some do, on the basis that they may further the interests of the government of Morocco is tantamount to objecting to the building of roads because tanks may drive on them - so may school buses, and goods vehicles, and ambulances," he said.

San Leon (previously called Island Oil and Gas) thus holds the same position as Kosmos Energy and Total, in that it does not need to take into account the wishes of the people of the territory. None of the companies have sought the consent of the people of Western Sahara. The contracts are signed with the government of Morocco, which refuses the territory to be a Non-Self-Governing Territory. The UN has concluded that any further exploration of oil in Western Sahara must be in accordance with the wishes and interests people of the Western Sahara. San Leon has consistently avoided to use the words 'Western Sahara' in its reports and company presentations.

According to Irish Independent, the Irish organisation of lawers Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), told will take legal action against the company over the plan.

"The right of a people to choose how or even whether to use their natural resources is one of the cornerstones of international human rights law", GLAN stated.

San Leon Energy has to WSRW's knowledge never responded to letters of concern from civil society. On only one occasion in the past has the company made comments to the media over the controversy: In an interview with Irish TV station RTE in 2011, a company representative stated it does not need to pay attention to the Saharawis, as "they are not representative".

Israeli company to explore gas in occupied Western Sahara

Israel's NewMed Energy today announced it has signed a deal with Morocco to produce natural gas offshore Boujdour, bringing former Cairn Energy back into the occupied territory. 

06 December 2022

SRI update

The following overview enlists stock-exchange registered companies currently operating in Western Sahara. Updated 6 December 2022.

06 December 2022

States criticize Morocco over human rights in Western Sahara

Ten states today took the opportunity to comment on Morocco's human rights track record in Western Sahara, the territory that it holds under illegal occupation. 

08 November 2022

Australian trade union condemns Incitec Pivot

The Maritime Union of Australia denounces the renewed imports of stolen conflict minerals into Australia.

20 October 2022