Total's unethical seabed exploration resumes

After a short Christmas break, the controversial French-Chinese oil exploration offshore occupied Western Sahara has resumed.

Published 02 January 2013

On 6 December 2012, Total’s one year reconnaissance licence on the Anzarane block offshore occupied Western Sahara came to an end. The French multinational had during that year contracted a subsidiary of the Chinese state oil company CNPC to carry out the seabed exploration work, WSRW revealed

Now, the seismic survey vessel BGP Prospector, is back on Total’s block. The vessel restarted its operations only few days after Total stated it had renewed the agreement. BGP Prospector is accompanied by the Vanuatu flagged supply vessel St.John (IMO number 8521713) and the South African flagged seismic guard vessel Bella (IMO number 8003498). BGP Prospector is currently towing several kilometers long cables to shoot the seismic. 

The operations are continuing even though any further exploration work in Western Sahara is in violation of international law according to the UN.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) sent a letter to Total on 7 December 2012, with the following questions. WSRW awaits an answer from the company: 

a) Does Total agree that the Sahrawi people, as the sole and original inhabitants of Western Sahara until the occupation in 1975, have the permanent right of sovereignty to their natural resources?
b) Does Total agree that the 2002 legal opinion, which your company refers to, establishes that the Saharawi people need to consent prior to the signing of further oil related exploration agreements in Western Sahara?
c) Has Total ever tried to seek the consent of the Saharawi people? If yes, how and when? If no, why not?
d) Does Total agree with concerned investors that signing such oil agreements risks undermining the UN efforts to solve the conflict in the territory?

WSRW also sent a letter to CNPC’s subsidiary BGP, and is awaiting response also from them. 


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