Somalia emerges from dark period in its history to launch oil and gas licensing round near LNG zone

Tuesday, 19 May 2020
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LNG Journal editor

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the Federal Republic of Somalia has launched the former war-torn nation’s first offshore licensing round on a coast where in the territorial waters of countries further south large natural gas finds have been made with LNG export projects planned.

Due to the global travel restrictions caused by of the Cobid-19 pandemic, the Somali Ministry decided to launch the licensing round roadshow virtually.

Return

Somalia is attempting to returning to the international fold after decades of being known mostly for piracy, terrorism and violent militia activity.

The nation was helped in the run-up to the exploration and production licensing offer with a roadmap drawn up by ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

The 2020 Somali licensing round features up to seven blocks that are up for the bidding process and are estimated to be among the most prospective areas for hydrocarbons.

An independent partial assessment of the 15 Somali blocks have found there may be a minimum of 30 billion barrels of oil equivalent in shallow and deepwater, which is easily accessible so long as the area remains free of piracy.

Countries south of Somalia on the Indian Ocean Coast such as Tanzania and Mozambique have made substantial offshore resource discoveries, especially of natural gas, with the Mozambicans able to plan world-class LNG projects.

This current licensing round will open on August 4 this year and will be closed March 12, 2021.

Somalia’s virtual launch of the licensing round was seen as a landmark moment in the development of Somalia’s natural resources, which will be transformational for the country’s development.

According to the Ministry, Somalia will be aiming for reliability and transparency for the oil and gas companies willing to be investors and who are prepared to do business with the Somali Government.

“A ground-breaking Petroleum Law completed its legislative process earlier this year,” said a statement.

“The Revenue Sharing Agreement enshrined in The Petroleum Law indicates how future revenues from the development of the industry will be shared between The Federal Government, the Federal Members States and their local communities,” it added.

The Ministry said the agreement has now been “road-tested” with the first revenues, which were recently generated from rental payments from Shell and ExxonMobil.

“The opportunities for the international exploration and development majors are enormous,” said Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, the Minister of Petroleum.

“Somalia is committed to attracting investment and promoting partnership and business in all segments of the oil and gas industry value chain,” he added.

Life in Somalia is returning to normal after decades of being a failed state and depicted in films such as “Black Hawk Down”, covering the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993 between US and United Nations troops and Somali militia.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia was illustrated in another movie based on the true experiences in 2009 of “Captain Phillips”, master of the US-flagged cargo vessel “Maersk Alabama”, which was hijacked.

Somalia itself hopes that sanity has returned to the nation.

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