China looks for oil in Somalia/ La Chine cherche du pétrole en Somalie

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Selon Ocnus.net, la Chine a réussi à signer une entente avec la Somalie pour faire de la prospection pétrolière au Puntland. Il faut savoir que le président somalien, Abdullahi Yusuf, est originaire de cette région. Pourtant, le gouvernement de transition n’a pas encore élaboré de politique nationale concernant l’octroi des concessions d’exploration pétrolières.

According to Ocnus.net, China signed deals with Somalia oil exploration in the Puntland region:

China’s Oil Offensive Strikes: Horn of Africa and Beyond

By Andrew McGregor, China 8/8/07

Aug 9, 2007 – 11:46:49 AM

In its efforts to expel an Islamist government and capture a handful of inactive al-Qaeda suspects in Somalia, the United States has risked its political reputation in the region through a series of unpopular measures.

These include backing an unsuccessful attempt by warlords to take over the country, several ineffective air raids, and finally, the financing of an unpopular Ethiopian military intervention. As African Union peacekeepers struggle to restore stability in the capital of Mogadishu, China has stepped in to sign the first oil exploration deal negotiated by Somalia’s new government. The agreement is the first of its kind since the overthrow of the Siad Barre regime in 1991 began a long period of political chaos in the strategically important nation.

China’s four major oil corporations have unlimited government support, allowing them to edge out the smaller Western oil companies that traditionally take on high-risk exploration projects like Somalia. Latecomers to the global oil game, the Chinese companies and their exploration offshoots have focused on oil-bearing regions neglected by major Western operators because of political turmoil, insecurity, sanctions or embargoes. China once hoped to supply the bulk of its energy needs from deposits in its western province of Xinjiang, but disappointing reserve estimates and an exploding economy have given urgency to China’s drive to secure its energy future. Twenty-five percent of China’s crude oil imports now come from African sources.

The Somalia deal is part of a decades-long Chinese campaign to engage Africa through investment, development aid, “soft loans”, arms sales and technology transfers. The European Union recently warned China that it would not participate in any debt-relief projects involving China’s generous “soft-loans” in Africa (Reuters, July 30).

Global demand for oil is expected to rise over 50 percent in the next two decades even as prices rise and reserves decline. To meet this demand, China and other Asian countries offer massive infrastructure developments in exchange for oil rights. President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders are regular visitors to African capitals and Chinese direct investment in Africa totaled $50 billion last year.

Oil in Somalia?

Last month a deal was reached between Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and China International Oil and Gas (CIOG) to begin oil exploration in the Mudug region [see map]Mudug map of the semi-autonomous state of Puntland (northeast Somalia) (Financial Times, July 17). Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which has yet to secure its rule, is to receive 51 percent of the potential revenues under the deal.

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf (a native of Puntland) appears to have negotiated the deal in concert with Puntland officials but without the knowledge of the Prime Minister, Ali Muhammad Gedi, who is still working on legislation governing the oil industry and production-sharing agreements. Gedi insists that “in order to protect the wealth of the country and the interests of the Somali people, we cannot operate without a regulatory body, without rules and regulations” (Financial Times, July 17). The agreement with China may become an important test of the authority of the transitional government. China has effectively preempted the return of Western oil interests to Somalia, though it is unclear how the Chinese project may be affected by the passage of a new national oil bill. Somali negotiators assured the Chinese firms that new legislation would have no impact on exploration work due to begin in September (Shabelle Media Network, July 17).

Though Somalia has no proven reserves of oil, Range Resources, a small Australian oil company already active in Puntland, suggests that the area might yield 5 to 10 billion barrels (Shabelle Media Network, July 14). Somalia is also estimated to have 200 billion cubic feet of untapped natural gas reserves. Western petroleum corporations, however, conducted extensive exploration of potential oil-bearing sites in Somalia in the 1980s and found nothing worth developing.

Public unrest is already on the rise in Puntland as the local government grows increasingly authoritarian and the national treasury has mysteriously dried up. Discontent has accelerated as leaders of the one-party regime continue to sign resource development deals with Western and Arab companies without any form of public consultation. The new deal with China has the potential to ignite political unrest in one of the few areas of Somalia to have avoided the worst of the nation’s brutal political nightmare.

China’s Strategy in Africa

Last November, Beijing hosted an important summit meeting between Chinese leaders and representatives of 48 African countries. The African delegates gave unanimous support to a declaration endorsing a one-China policy and “China’s peaceful reunification” [1]. China in turn announced a $5 billion African development fund (administered by China’s Eximbank), with a promise of $15 billion more in aid and debt forgiveness to come. In exchange for secure energy supplies, China is also offering barrier-free access to Chinese markets, something Africans have been unable to obtain from the United States or the EU.

While China has had success in securing energy supplies in Africa, its oil offensive is by no means flawless. Chinese corporations working abroad provide little employment for local people and are remarkably tolerant of corruption and human rights abuses. Chinese overseas operations are also notorious for their disregard of environmental considerations. The latter is perhaps unsurprising, considering the environmental devastation afflicting China’s own industrial centers. Yet, the combination of all these factors tends to create unrest in nations where Chinese operations are seen as benefiting members of the ruling elite and few others. What is also notable is that of the five African countries where China is involved in major resource operations, only one, Angola, is not dealing with a major insurgency.

[…]

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6 thoughts on “China looks for oil in Somalia/ La Chine cherche du pétrole en Somalie

  1. We will well come any cooperation with china related with oil and gas exploration projects in Somalia and any other African country but we suggest to them when signing any agreement concern the oil deals, they sign it when the real representatives found who can sign the deal on behalf of the nation not with such a regime leaded by Abdillahi yusuf and Gadi , they cant sign any deal on the name of the Somali nation any deal with them will be incomplete deal and illegal as well
    Thanks yrs Ali

  2. There is no doubt that Somalia has proven oil and gas resources, which has been neglegted by US and EU last decades.
    As Somalian we have to welcome any legal oil deal with China, I am also 100% agreed with Mr ALI, as we can not tolerate any illegal deal, which is signed by regimes such as MR Yusuf and Mr Gedi.

  3. somali and their goverment wellcomeing these china pojects, adon,t agee at all what thay said mr ali and mr aden yare. those abulaahi and gadi are somali leaders so they can sign any agreements.

  4. The named warlords can’t be considered as Somali leaders but they are guilty of high treason and leaders of distractive regime who guide the historical enemy troops to the country, therefore they can’t represent the Somali nation in any occasion.
    I think you are one of the Ethiopian troops who came to support the named warlords,your name and comments sounds so because a real Somali citizen who listen , see and feel what is going on in Somalia will never support the mentioned warlords.

  5. Hi my name is kamal, I just went to say that I am very happy for Somalia for the natural economy resources such as Oil, gas, and I hope that many company’s will come to Somalia to discovery many other things witch will help produce economy booming, that will help the back bone that has being parallelized for many years.
    P.S. friend

  6. Peace is the first key before oil exploration or any form of resource developement begin. I know some ruthless foriegn goverments my side with somali factions or groups so that to take advantage the somali lawlessness in order to steal the natural resources and great more troubles. Somalis need strong leader with good heart and good brain. A leader who can deal with the oil corporation properly. A leader who has the education and the political skills needed to confront those ruthless multinational companies. Finally a leader chosen by the people and who is among them interms of thinking. Not a puppet from some where else with only one agenda. To once more create another round of problems.

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