New oil deals on occupied land
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Morocco is entering new oil contracts with European firms to illegally search for oil in Western Sahara.

Published 28 November 2007

Read story from Africa Energy Intelligence (452 -21/11/2007) below. 

Western Sahara: Firm Quietly Buys Up Acreage

Africa Energy Intelligence understands that the company LongReach Oil & Gas Ventures is presently in talks with Morocco ’s Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (Onhym) to acquire a license straddling the border between Morocco and Western Sahara, a territory claimed by both Rabat and by the Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic founded by the Polisario.

Incorporated in Jersey, LongReach already has interests in the region. Previously known under the name GB Oil & Gas Ventures , the group has held a 30% stake since last December in an onshore permit, two thirds of which lies in Western Sahara . The license is operated by San Leon, a firm registered in Morocco and headed by Phil Thompson , a geologist who previously worked for the Algeria n affiliate of another Irish company, Petroceltic.

The third operator on the acreage is the Irish oil concern Island Oil with which LongReach has close ties. The chairman of LongReach, Bryan Bennitz , is equally chairman of Island Oil. The two other directors of LongRearch are lawyers based in Jersey , Bob Farley and Andrew Staine .

The Sahrawi Republic, which is about to kick off a second licensing round (AEI 451), has been keeping a close eye on LongReach’s operations in the region, and is generally turning up the heat on oil companies that have made deals with Onhym. In the past, its efforts have combined with strong lobbying by the Norwegian NGO Western Sahara Resource Watch to force several companies to back away from the region, among them Total , Kerr McGee and Australia ’s Baraka .


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