The Israeli company that signed an agreement for hydrocarbon exploration in occupied Western Sahara claims to follow “the laws in force”. But of which country?
“I would like to clarify that all our actions in the past and in the present are done in accordance with and subject to international law and Israeli law and the laws in force. In addition, it should be noted in this context that we act in accordance with the stated policy of the Israeli government and we intend to continue doing so.”
This was stated by Mr. Nadav Perry, VP Regulatory and Public Affairs of the Israeli company NewMed Energy in a mail to Western Sahara Resource Watch on 26 December 2022.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) on 6 December wrote that the company had obtained a controversial licence offshore occupied Western Sahara.
The United Nations, the EU, the African Union, the International Court of Justice, the EU Court of Justice, the African Court of Peoples' and Human Rights all establish that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco.
“Considering that Morocco is not the sovereign power in Western Sahara, nor has a legal mandate to be present in the territory, your answer is a bit unclear to us. Which country's laws does your company believe to be applicable to Western Sahara - and why?”, WSRW responded to the company on 26 December 2022. The question was not responded to. WSRW sent the same request on 26 January 2023, but still without answer.
At the time of the announcement of the licence in the occupied territory, NewMed was in the process of negotiating a merger with the UK company Capricorn. That merger plan is now put on ice.
Capricorn has a history of operating in occupied Western Sahara - it is the only company to ever have carried out an offshore drilling operation there, in partnership with Kosmos Energy. The 2015 drilling operation led to several investors divesting from Capricorn and Kosmos, as the two firms were seen as operating in violation of basic ethical expectations.
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Here are the owners of Delek Group which is behind the oil search offshore occupied Western Sahara.
Israel's NewMed Energy today announced it has signed a deal with Morocco to produce natural gas offshore Boujdour, bringing former Cairn Energy back into the occupied territory.
Parallel to the Moroccan government's participation in a summit in Israel, a first ever export of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara to Israel is about to be completed.
This press release is one of the first initiatives of the network that took the form of Western Sahara Resource Watch, 6 August 2004.