The Moroccan government undertook a 1002 Km² seismic study offshore occupied Western Sahara in the first part of 2018.
On 22 March 2018, the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM announed in a release that a 1002 Km² seismic study 3D study at the Boujdour Offshore Shallow had been completed. "ONHYM is pleased to announce the completion of the acquisition of of 3D seismic data over their license area of "Boujdour Shallow Offshore" on the Atlantic coast. The processing, interpretation and integration of the new data will enable to assess the hydrocarbon potential of the area", ONHYM wrote.
From what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands, the study was done by the Russian research vessel Akademik Primakov, in the fleet of the Russian company Rosgeo, accompanied by the Vanuatu flagged guard vessel Marja (IMO 7301051), and the standby safety vessel Sursum Corda (IMO 8119508). Rosgeo made a separate statement on the end of exploration on 30 March 2018, regarding Akademik Primakov's works "on the shelf of Morocco".
The study took place on the block which Swiss multinational Glencore used to be the operator of, but that it renounced after over a year of negotiations with ONHYM. Today, the block is operated by the minor UK company Teredo Oils, controlled by Mr. Alan Soulsby. The study took place in the waters directly to the west of the capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiún. However, it is not necessarily Teredo who did the study - it could well have been done by ONHYM directly.
Morocco has occupied the larger part of Western Sahara since 1975. Its oil exploration takes place in violation of international law, by not respecting the wishes of the people of the territory.
The UK company GeoEx is now trying to sell the seismic data it collected of the seafloor of occupied Western Sahara. WSRW warns possible clients to stay away.
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.
Several seismic survey companies have deeply regretted their involvement in the occupied Western Sahara over the last decade. Now, Morocco is trying to partner with yet another one - this time onshore. WSRW warns industry to not fall into the trap.