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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decision to drop its 17-month long investigation into Soma Oil and Gas has comprehensively cleared the company of the corruption allegations levelled against it by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and leaves hanging the question of why these allegations were made in the first place. The company is now free to finalise negotiations over production sharing agreements for a number of offshore blocks as soon as a new federal government is in place in Mogadishu. Its management then hopes to raise finance by farming out part of its interest and to start drilling as quickly as possible.

Somalia
Subscriber

The Ministry of Energy and Minerals of the breakaway Republic of Somaliland announced on 19 November that it had signed a contract with BGP for a multi-client 2D seismic survey in the territory’s offshore waters. The programme will be financed through data purchases by international oil companies operating in Somaliland, the ministry said. Seismic operations will be managed and overseen by the ministry, with support from ministries such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Environment. A similar survey was acquired by TGS-Nopec in 2008.

Somalia
Issue 334 - 10 November 2016

Bid round planned for 2017

Subscriber

Somalia plans to launch a licensing round in Q2 2017 offering acreage in the central and southern offshore. Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Jamal Mursal told Global Pacific & Partners’ Africa Upstream conference in Cape Town on 1 November that Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil intended to resume work on the licences they placed in force majeure in 1990, while BP had relinquished its former onshore acreage.

Somalia
Subscriber

After more than a year, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped an investigation into allegations that explorer Soma Oil & Gas bribed officials in Somalia. Prompted by a court challenge, the SFO took the exceptional step of informing Soma that there was insufficient evidence of criminality to make a prosecution possible. However, it is continuing with a ten-month investigation into a further set of so-far-secret allegations also linked to the company’s Somali operations. On 12 October, one of the UK’s most senior judges refused Soma’s judicial review application to force the SFO to take a final decision on whether to prosecute or to disclose the nature of its new enquiry.

Somalia
Subscriber

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in the maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya on 19-23 September in The Hague. The hearings will concern solely the preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the court and the admissibility of the application raised by Kenya in October 2015, an ICJ statement said. Kenya maintains that the Indian Ocean boundary should be a straight line running directly east from the point at which the two countries meet on land.

Kenya | Somalia
Issue 314 - 17 December 2015

Somalia: Soma submits PSA application

Subscriber

Soma Oil & Gas has delivered its exploration data to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, along with an application for production-sharing agreements (PSAs). The ministry has opened a data room to store and display the materials, and appointed Spectrum ASA to market the data. Soma said its analysis of the 2D seismic data had identified specific prospects which merited further exploration, and it had applied for PSAs targeting these prospects.

Somalia
Issue 311 - 06 November 2015

Somalia: Revenue-sharing agreement

Subscriber

The federal government of Somalia signed a preliminary agreement with the federal member states on 21 October on the sharing of revenue from petroleum and mineral resources. Petroleum and mineral resources minister Mohamed Muktar Ibrahim told the Africa Upstream conference in Cape Town that the government aimed to establish a common vision on ownership, control, and how the state’s share of revenue could be distributed among all Somalis, federally, regionally and locally. In the absence of a central policy, federal states such as Somaliland and Puntland have conducted their own licensing.

Somalia
Subscriber

Norway’s Spectrum ASA has announced an agreement to acquire 28,000km of long offset 2D seismic data offshore southern Somalia. Spectrum’s survey will cover areas licensed to Pecten, a joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil, which have been under force majeure since 1992. It will also manage and market 20,000km of 2D data gathered and processed by Soma Oil & Gas in 2014, which it says the survey is designed to complement. Soma – a UK company chaired by former Conservative party leader Lord (Michael) Howard – is giving the results of its survey to the federal government in return for the right to pre-emptively choose 12 blocks.

Somalia
Issue 308 - 22 September 2015

Dissecting the SEMG report

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The Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG)’s leaked July 2015 report into Soma’s capacity-building agreement (CBA) with the Ministry of Petroleum includes a number of allegations, all of which the company has rejected.

Somalia
Subscriber

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office said on 31 July that it had opened an investigation into Soma Oil & Gas in relation to allegations of corruption in Somalia. The investigation follows a report by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to the Security Council which said that Soma had been making regular payments to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources since mid-2014, some to senior civil servants who were instrumental in securing the company’s initial contract and negotiating subsequent agreements. Soma said it was confident that there was no basis to the allegations and it was co-operating fully with the SFO.

Somalia
Subscriber

Africa Energy Corporation, the former Horn Petroleum, has given notice to the authorities in Puntland that it intends to withdraw from the January 2007 Nugaal and Dharoor production-sharing agreements (PSAs) with immediate effect. Horn suspended its operations in Puntland in February, and relaunched in March with a new name and new corporate strategy.

Somalia
Subscriber

The UK’s Soma Oil & Gas says it is almost ready to transfer 2D seismic data acquired offshore Somalia to the federal government and will then seek to negotiate a production sharing agreement (PSA) covering areas it considers most prospective. Soma chief executive Robert Sheppard told an Energy Exchange forum on Somalia in London on 27 April the company had completed processing in August 2014, and was in talks with the government about transferring the data. “We are now at the point to move to the additional stage. To highlight the most prospective [areas], to shoot 3D. But to do that, we need a contract with the government, a PSA,” he said.

Somalia
Issue 293 - 29 January 2015

Somalia: Power master plan

Subscriber

The World Bank is seeking expressions of interest from consultants to develop a power master plan study for Somalia, and the autonomous territories of Puntland and Somaliland. The work is funded with a grant from the Africa Renewable Energy Access trust fund. The project involves producing regionally based power master plans covering Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, with work to take up to 24 months. This will include mapping the existing electricity sector in the three territories, to establish the number of customers.

Somalia
Issue 285 - 26 September 2014

Confusion Surrounds Somali contracts

Subscriber

Somalia’s petroleum ministry says it has no knowledge of plans to review a series of contracts, including an oil exploration agreement with the UK’s Soma Oil & Gas. On 17 September the Financial Times reported that the government planned to rewrite or cancel nine big contracts on the advice of a new donor-backed committee, set up in the wake of scandals at the central bank. However, petroleum ministry director general Farah Abdi Hassan told African Energy: “I’ve seen the Financial Times article. It must come from another part of government, as we don’t have any information on that.” Soma is equally in the dark.

Somalia
Subscriber

The Somali government has turned to the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to resolve its maritime border dispute with Kenya. In its application, posted on the ICJ’s website on 28 August, Somali minister of foreign affairs and investment promotion Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh asked the court to determine the course of the maritime boundary, saying “diplomatic negotiations, in which… respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement”. In its application, Somalia asks the court “to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles]”.

Kenya | Somalia