Kenya, Somalia diplomatic row escalates over offshore riches

Kenya, Somalia diplomatic row escalates over offshore riches

Kenya has halted diplomatic relations with Somalia after a row over oil and gas blocks spiraled out into conflict.

Nairobi expelled Somalia’s ambassador on Saturday and called back its own representative in Mogadishu.

Officials in Kenya said the Somalian Government’s decision to auction off oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area that borders Somalia prompted the recall and expulsion of the diplomats.

Somalia’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusation in a statement saying it will award licenses to foreign oil companies later this year.

According to the Ministry, the Horn Africa nation does not have any plans to offer any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the maritime boundary is decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Ministry added that it wanted to reassure the government of Kenya that it stands by its commitment not to undertake any unilateral activities in the disputed area until such a time as the ICJ renders its judgement.

The ICJ is currently hearing the case regarding the maritime border between the two countries. Mogadishu’s case against Nairobi hinges on attempts to redraw the sea border, which would impact at least three of Kenya’s 20 offshore oil blocks.

The government of Somalia and Spectrum Geo, the company that conducted a 2D offshore seismic survey, have dismissed Kenya’s claims that oil blocks were auctioned.

Spectrum Geo insists that no seismic data was acquired in the area that is the subject of maritime delimitation case at the ICJ.

As a reminder, Somalia has long been considered a failed state without a functioning government. It has only had an elected president last year and now seems anxious to safeguard what it regards as its sovereign rights in the Indian Ocean.

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