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21 Feb, 2022 13:47

Government snubs oil deal with US firm

Somalia’s president and prime minister banded together to cancel the agreement, just signed by the petroleum minister
Government snubs oil deal with US firm

Somali Petroleum Minister Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed announced on Sunday that the country had signed a revenue sharing deal with a US oil firm. Shortly afterwards, it was denounced by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, who found unity on this issue despite being political opponents.

The deal – or rather seven separate agreements for seven blocks of an offshore field – was signed with a firm from Texas called Coastline Exploration Ltd. by the Somali official. Ahmed touted it as “a victory for the Somali people,” thanking President Farmaajo, as Mohamed is usually called in Somalia, for supporting it.

The reaction from the presidency was most likely not what the minister had hoped for. After a few hours, it declared that the deal with the US firm had been canceled. Signing any deals for the nation’s natural resources during the ongoing period of general elections in the country was against a presidential decree, Villa Somalia said.

The prime minister denounced the deal too, calling it “illegal” and “unacceptable.” Roble’s office said he will take legal action in response to the petroleum minister’s actions.

The African nation is on a difficult road to holding a long-awaited parliamentary election, which pits the president and the prime minister against each other. In December, Farmaajo even suspended Roble’s executive powers for allegedly posing a threat to the electoral process due to corruption in his office. The PM accused the president of staging a coup attempt.

The US firm involved in the new scandal is apparently the Houston-based Coastline Exploration Inc. Its website says it was founded in 2018 and advertises Somalia’s potential for oil drilling opportunities in its ‘operations’ section, citing a seismic survey conducted by another firm several years ago.