For a little while, ENGIE had published on its website hints about who it had actually "consulted" when doing business in occupied Western Sahara.
A peculiar development has taken place on the website of the French company ENGIE.
The company in 2018 won a contract for the construction of a controversial desalination plant in Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has during the last months been in contact with ENGIE and the law firm Global Diligence over the matter. The latter had carried out a study for ENGIE relating to the operation.
On 8 May 2021, in a website article describing its human rights approach, a segment was added about ENGIE's involvement in the occupied territory. However, already four days later, on 12 May 2021, the reference had been removed.
During the time that the paragraph was public, the statement read as follows (translated from French by WSRW):
“For example, ENGIE is participating in a seawater desalination project for the irrigation of Dakhla, a city located in Western Sahara, a territory disputed by Morocco and the Polisario Front (an armed political party). In this sensitive context, ENGIE had recourse to a company, an international expert recognized at the UN level (GlobalDiligence), which assessed the impact of this project with regard to respect for the rights of local communities and the human rights of all stakeholders (consultations with NGOs representing different interests, Moroccan ministries, Sahrawi representatives from the province of Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab, etc.)”
WSRW has called on both ENGIE and Global Diligence to explain the relevance, methodology and terms of reference of the study in question, as well as to describe how the study takes into account the legal status of the territory and the rights of the Saharawis. None of the questions have been responded to.
The now-deleted reference is visible through Google search, but does not appear on the so-called cached version of the google hit. The human rights web article is now fully identical to what it was on 16 January 2021. The current version of the article can be downloaded here. A longer human rights PDF document linked to from the same website article, was updated on 17 March 2021.
The French multinational ENGIE operates in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW today wrote the company, asking how they consider the legal-ethical aspects of such operations.
The United Kingdom was the prime exporter of gas into occupied Western Sahara in 2020.
A subsidiary of French multinational VINCI SA will carry out a project that is essential to connecting the controversial energy projects of occupied Western Sahara to Morocco's national electricity grid.
And another vessel is on its way.