Glencore has left occupied Western Sahara
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The final assets that Glencore held in oil exploration in occupied Western Sahara have been sold.

Published 23 January 2018

The Swiss/UK multinational Glencore, one of the world's largest companies, has departed Western Sahara. It was the largest foreign company present in the territory, and one of very few exploring for oil. 

The company has since 2013 been the operator of the Boujdour Offshore Shallow oil exploration block, located in the waters between Western Sahara and the Canary Islands. 

The departure from that licence was confirmed by the official gazette of the Moroccan government, dated 4 January 2018. The news was also covered by Africa Intelligence on 22 January 2018. 

The assets that Glencore held have been transferred to Teredo, which was the other owner of the licence. It is thus believed that Teredo also has taken over the operatorship of the Boujdour Offshore Shallow licence. The transaction of shares to Teredo was concluded already on 22 November 2017, according to the Moroccan official document. As late as 10 November, Glencore told Moroccan media that the negotiations for its departure were still ongoing. Several international investors have engaged with the company to halt the agreement in the occupied waters. 

The company clarified to Swiss media already in May 2017 that it intended to depart. The company had two licences, one called Foum Ognit, in which it held a minority stake. And another, the Boujdour Offshore Shallow, where it also was operator. Leaving the Foum Ognit appeared rather unproblematic for the company, but the negotiations with the Moroccan state company ONHYM for the departure from Boujdour Offshore Shallow appeared more complex, from what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands. WSRW has since May 2017 been waiting for the final confirmation that the company has departed. 

Only three stock-exchange registered companies are currently partnering with the Moroccan government in the oil search: Kosmos Energy (USA), Cairn Energy (UK) with an offshore licence, while San Leon Energy (UK) operates onshore. Little is known about Teredo, the small company that took over Glencore's asset. 

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU stated on 10 January 2018 that international humanitarian law applies to the occupied Western Sahara, and that the EU fisheries agreement with Morocco covering Western Sahara therefore is invalid. The Court also stress that the legality of an agreement in Western Sahara depends on the consent from the representatives of the people of the territory.

A UN legal opinion from 2002 declares that no further oil exploration can take place without consent from the people of Western Sahara. The oil companies currently involved - Kosmos, Cairn and San Leon - all present incorrectly the conclusion of the UN legal opinion. 

The Moroccan gazette can also be download here.

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