Editorial: Why lack of proper regulatory framework could make Somalia’s oil a curse

Author: Rasna Warah, The Elephant(Kenya), Published on: 23 April 2019

"Adding Fuel to Fire: Why Somalia’s Oil Could Prove to Be a Curse"

The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s government to put Somalia’s oil reserves on the predatory oil and extractive industries’ market argues RASNA WARAH could prove to be a resource curse and a recipe for disaster in a country that has suffered from more than two decades of civil war, fledgling state institutions, absence of checks and balances and which has few or no regulatory frameworks or laws in place to manage its oil in the interest of the Somali state and its people...

It is estimated that there could be as many as 110 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves in Somalia – equal to Kuwait’s reserves and nearly half of those of Saudi Arabia. It is no wonder that Britain, along with Norway, Australia, Qatar and Turkey, among other countries, have been eyeing Somalia’s oil and gas reserves for some time. However, exploiting natural resources in an environment of fragility and near-anarchy can spell doom for a country that barely has functioning ministries and other public institutions and which does not have the regulatory frameworks that could protect the country from local and foreign predatory forces. In addition, the looting spree precipitated by oil could lead to further in-fighting between factions and clan-based rivalries and competition could be further aggravated in regions where oil reserves are found. Al Shabaab could also find another reason to rally its troops against the FGS in regions it controls.

The auctioning off of Somalia’s oil could also lead to feuds with neighbouring countries like Kenya, which has a dispute with Somalia over a maritime boundary along its border – a triangular chunk of sea in the Indian Ocean of about 100,000 square kilometres. Kenya has already recalled its ambassador to Somalia because since the dispute remains unsettled at the International Court of Justice, Somalia has no right to auction off the territory, which is believed to have vast amounts of oil and gas reserves.

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