|Press Release Island Oil & Gas PLC
12-12-2006 Morocco Licence Award
ISLAND OIL & GAS PLC AWARDED EXCLUSIVE LICENCE IN MOROCCO
International companies to assess oil potential in Morocco's southern onshore zone, MAP, 06.12.06
New oil company enters occupied Western Sahara, Afrol News, 14.12.06
Aujourd'hui le Maroc, 06.12.06
Signature d'un Contrat de reconnaissance dans le "Bassin de Zag"
L'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines (Onhym), la Société
irlandaise "Island Oil and Gas PLC.", la société "San Leon (Morroco)
LTD", la société "GB Oil and Gas Ventures Limited" ont signé, mardi à
Rabat, un contrat de reconnaissance dit "Bassin de Zag", indique un
communiqué de l'Onhym.
ONHYM: Signature d'un contrat de reconnaissance
L'Office national des hydrocarbures et des mines (Onhym) et plusieurs
Sociétés (Island Oil and Gas PLC, San Leon (Morroco) LTD, GB Oil and
Gas Ventures ..
Hidrocarburos: firma de contrato reconocimiento "cuenca de Zag" entre Onhym y varias empresas . MAP. 06.12.06
Nueva compañía petrolera irrumpe en Sáhara Occidental, Afrol News 15.12.06
Western Sahara Resource Watch
Open letter to Island Oil & Gas plc
13 December 2006
Regarding the involvement of Island Oil & Gas in occupied Western Sahara
From a press release published on your homepages yesterday we have
learned that Island Oil & Gas together with two other partners has
signed a reconnaissance contract with the Moroccan state oil company
ONHYM. The area you have signed an agreement for covers parts of the
national territory of Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco.
Western Sahara Resource Watch – an international network with member
organisations in 30 countries- hereby wish to declare our strong
denunciation of this agreement and wish to draw your attention to the
very serious political and ethical implications of the agreement, as
well as its undermining of Human Rights and International Law.
Morocco is an illegal occupying power in Western Sahara. This has been
established by The International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1975,
numerous resolutions of The United Nations Security Council and General
Assembly and by the UN Under-Secretary General of Legal Affairs, Mr.
Hans Corell in his letter to the President of the Security Council
on 29 January 2002. The occupation of Western Sahara has resulted in
enormous suffering and deprivation of the Saharawi people, the rightful
owners of the land and the natural resources of Western Sahara.
Approximately 165.000 Saharawis are languishing in refugee camps in the
inhospitable Algerian desert since 1975. The Saharawi population
remaining in areas under Moroccan occupation is subjected to grave
human rights violations, such as torture, forced disappearances and
arbitrary detention. Most importantly, however, they have not been
allowed to freely exercise their right to self-determination through a
free, fair and transparent referendum. This right was established
through UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) (1960).
Western Sahara Resource Watch is aware that your company has not
consulted with the Saharawi people or their internationally recognized
representatives; Front Polisario. It is therefore highly dubious that
such a contract can be seen as being in accordance with international
law, ref. the Corell opinion of 29 January 2002 .
In our view, the political and ethical implications are, however, more
important than the legal ones. Please see the Norwegian Ministry of
Finance for an elaborate opinion on these matters: Press Release and Recomendations.
Island Oil & Gas is collaborating with an illegal occupier, thus
increasing the risk of further armed conflict, destabilisation and
suffering in the entire region. This increased tension actively
undermines the hard work of the United Nations to solve the conflict in
Western Sahara over the last fifteen years.
Island's cooperation with the Moroccan government in the occupied area
clearly lends legitimacy to the illegal Moroccan occupation of Western
Sahara. This is made even clearer by Island's reference to the
exploration area as "Moroccan" despite the fact that no country has
recognised the territory as part of Morocco.
Moreover, the zone in which your company has selected to carry out your
operations is a highly militarised one. The acreage area is located
just adjacent to the wall that the Moroccan forces constructed during
the eighties, dividing the country into two parts. The area is believed
to have one of the world's highest densities of landmines, and tens of
thousands of Moroccan soldiers patrol the area.
The licence also seems to cover areas in the vicinity of Smara, a town
that has seen repeated clashes between Moroccan police and civilian
Saharawis, as well as serious human rights abuses committed by Moroccan
forces against the indigenous Saharawis. For the human rights
violations in Smara, see for instance this summer's report by the human rights organisation Front Line, the report of the UN Secretary-General on the Situation Concerning Western Sahara, 12 April 2006 and the statement from Amnesty International, 3 April 2006.
Over the last four years, our global movement has conducted
international lobby campaigns vis-à-vis oil companies from several
states that have been active offshore the occupied area. They include
TGS-Nopec, Fugro NV, Thor Offshore, Total, Kerr-McGee, Wessex
Exploration and Pioneer Natural Resources. The latest company to
withdraw from the area, Kerr-McGee, was forced to listen to our
arguments when its financial partners and the local political
environment in the USA exerted pressure on them. As a consequence, the
company lost shareholders for a total of US $80 million and eventually
withdrew from its operations offshore Western Sahara in 2006.
We also notice from your homepages that your company intends to pursue
opportunities in third countries, such as Libya, the Netherlands and
East Timor, all of them strongly in favour of self-determination for
the Saharawi people. The latter, as you might now, was itself under
foreign occupation for 24 years, and has extensive diplomatic relations
with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. We also know that you have
several licences offshore Ireland, a country that has consistently
pronounced itself in favour of the Saharawi people's legitimate claim
to self-determination, lastly in the UN General Assembly this autumn.
Western Sahara Resource Watch hereby appeals to Island Oil and Gas to
demonstrate its attachment to International Legality and Human Rights
by reconsidering its involvement in Western Sahara. We urge your
company to make a public statement before the end of the year, making
it clear that your company immediately withdraws from any commercial
activity within the borders of Western Sahara in collaboration with the
With the present letter we hope to establish an open and frank dialogue
with your company to address these concerns and we sincerely hope you
Western Sahara Resource Watch will be more than happy to provide you
with any additional information that you may require to study this
matter more closely. We also wish to request a meeting with your
representatives in Dublin at the earliest convenience.
for Western Sahara Resource Watch