WSRW has today sent a letter to OPEC, asking the organisation to clarify its position on Western Sahara following its press release on the controversial Crans Montana Forum conference which OPEC claims takes place in "Dakhla, Morocco".
In a press release issued today, the Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) congratulated the head of the International Energy Forum (IEF) for having received the Crans Montana Forum's golden medal during what it called "an official ceremony in Dakhla, Morocco".
OPEC's Secretary General, Mr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo is quoted praising both the Chinese Secretary Genereal Dr Sun Xiansheng as well as the Crans Montana Forum.
Dr. Sun Xiansheng used to be the President of the Economics and Technology Research Institute of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). That company has been involved in the oil exploration offshore occupied Western Sahara for years, through its subsidiary BGP.
Still today, one of BGP's seismic vessels, the BGP Prospector, is surveying the Boujdour Maritime block, offshore the occupied terrtory. The block was previously owned by Kosmos Energy. The graphic above shows the CNPC vessel BGP Prospector as of 20 March 2018.
Western Sahara Resource Watch today sent a letter to the OPEC president, asking about their position on the conflict. WSRW also enquired about whether OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) is in a position to support projects in occupied territory. As late as in 2017, OFID supported the Moroccan state owned phosphate company OCP, a company that exploits the phsophate resources in Western Sahara in violation of international law.
OPEC has 16 member states: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.
In its letter to OPEC, WSRW underlines that the remarks from the organisation are "particularly astonishing, given that quite a number of OPEC Member States recognize Western Sahara as an independent State, with which they have active diplomatic relations".
"We call on OPEC's Member States to take up this matter with the organisation, in order to ensure it doesn't act in a way that hinders the UN-mediated peace process in Western Sahara, through strengthening the claim of the aggressor to the conflict", says Sara Eyckmans of WSRW.
Crans Montana Forum is today ending its fourth edition in Dakhla, located in the southern part of occupied Western Sahara, held under the patronage of the Moroccan monarchy - the same monarchy which ordered the invasion and subsequent annexation of Western Sahara in 1975. Crans Montana appears as a most unusual international organisation that brings together world leaders to discuss current issues in international politics, but its structure and funding is far from clear. WSRW has repeatedly contacted the organisation, but never received any replies.
The article on OPEC's website can also be downloaded in pdf or jpg.
With all multinational oil companies in occupied Western Sahara having abandoned their activities, the Moroccan government is trying to catch interest of new investors for further illegal oil exploration. Russian and Chinese state-owned companies, commissioned by a UK firm, are behind a large exploration programme.
WSRW’s repeated questions on the organisation’s structure or financial backers for the contested event on occupied land remain unanswered.
An event planned by the secreteve Crans Montana Forum, condemned by the African Union, is about to take place in occupied Western Sahara. The organiser fails to answer questions from WSRW regarding their organisation, such as who is on the board and who is financing the event.
The African Union has issued a strong declaration condemning the plans of the Swiss organisation Crans Montana to hold their Forum in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara, "as it is a grave violation of the International Law". Read the full Declaration here.