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Ministry of Water & Minerals about to Strike Deal with Rogue Puntland Oil Company: Range Resources Ltd
Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 2, 2008 (SL Times) – The Somaliland Ministry of Water & Minerals is negotiating with Puntland’s chief foreign investor in oil exploration ‘Range Resources Ltd’ in the hope of issuing the Australian based company a license for commercial exploration and production of oil and gas.
SL Times has learnt from undisclosed sources inside the Ministry of Water and Minerals (MWM) that company representatives from Range Resources and its Canadian based oil exploration partner company in Puntland, Africa oil Ltd (former name Canmex Minerals), flew in to Hargeysa sometime last June (07) to hold discussions with the ministry. In that meeting, the ministry was assured by Range and Africa oil that they have the full backing of the President of Puntland, Muse Ade, in becoming actively involved in Somaliland’s petroleum industry.
“MWM could well face a barrage of criticism from the opposition, parliament and the public if it goes ahead and allots Range Resources a petroleum license to operate in the country”, said the source.
According to information that has reached the SL Times, an important player in the contacts between the Ministry of Water & Minerals (MWM) and Range Resources, is Mr Liban Boqor, one of the company’s non-executive directors and major shareholders.
Liban Boqor is currently Senior Economic and Political Advisor to the President of Puntland, Muse Ade, and was instrumental in finalising the deal between Range Resources and the State of Puntland. In addition, Muse Ade, the President of Puntland is the son of the brother of Liban Boqor (uncle to president Ade), and that explains why the Puntland president, who is officially at war with Somaliland, gave his full backing for Range Resources, wanting to do business with Somaliland.
Puntland’s leaders earn substantial revenues from their deal with Range and African Oil companies. Some of this money goes towards Puntland’s war efforts against Somaliland and sustains the current hostilities that Puntland is fuelling in Sool region against Somaliland.
Liban Boqor is viewed by the Warsengali clan, in Majayahan, eastern Sanag region in Somaliland, to have been the architect behind Puntland’s disastrous incursions into Majayahan district parts of Sanag region which led to fierce battles between the local Warsangali and Puntland’s Majeerteen militias in March 2006. That incursion by about 300 Puntland/Majeerteen militia well-armed with 30 odd gun-mounted vehicles, was financed by Range Resources, and its purpose was to protect field and geological scientists belonging to Range Resources who wanted to collect rock and earth samples from Majahayan district in Sanag region. Some reports estimated the number of people from Sanag region who were killed in the Majahayan battles as high as 60. Range Resources cancelled the expedition after these military clashes.
The MWM source, who asked not to be disclosed, said that, “the current political instability that is evolving in Puntland and its deteriorating insecurity has virtually made it impossible for Range Resources and Africa Oil to start their exploration and drilling activities scheduled for 2008, and as a result, Range is trying to get a foot in Somaliland’s stable and lucrative oil and gas block concessions.”
The same MWM source added, “I don’t think it’s ethical, on the part of MWM, to even entertain the idea that we want to get these very same people who are deeply and politically part and parcel of the Puntland administration to be doing business with us.”
SL Times failed in its attempts to verify these serious concerns with MWM. The ministry was not available to comment.
MWM has a habit of refuting local media reports which often expose its dealings with notorious foreign individuals and broker firms posing as authentic companies with little or no capital, or experience in oil and gas industry. Up to now, the MWM has not presented to parliament the many, half a dozen or so, agreements it has signed with foreign individuals and companies, which by law the ministry is obliged to submit to parliament, in order for the parliament to either endorse or reject these agreements.
Only last week, the Ethiopian ‘Addis Fortune’ Journal on 13 Jan 08 quoted the Swedish Lundin Petroleum AB company that it was active in the exploration of Somaliland’s oil and gas potential. Nonetheless, Somaliland’s MWM has not commented or refuted this claim made by the Swedish company, Lundin Petroleum to Addis Fortune.
The MWM source confirmed to SL Times that Lundin has met and made contact with the ministry and that the ministry had at first been reluctant to talk to Lundin fearing that it was in some way connected to Range or Africa oil and requested Lundin for an official letter of confirmation declaring that it had nothing to do with Range or Africa Oil and which it did.
“MWM had unconfirmed reports in the past that Lundin was associated with Range and Africa Oil and wanted confirmation from Lundin that this was not true. MWM does not want to assign the country’s natural resources to a foreign syndicate of companies,” said the source at MWM.
However, SL Times has checked with ‘the Canadian securities regulatory authorities’ using the SEDAR filing system for company details on African Oil Corporation. According to SEDAR documents, Africa Oil (former name Canmex Minerials) was incorporated by Mr. Lukas Lundin in 1993 in Vancouver, Canada. Mr Lundin served as the company Director and President of Africa Oil from the time of the company’s formation right up to few days before Range Resources and Africa Oil (Canmex) signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding in relation to an 80% farm ( share of exploration expenditure) in Puntland’s Nogal Basin and Darin Basin Blocks in Oct 2 006. Mr Lundin continues to hold a major share of Africa Oil (Canmex) through another company.
While compiling this report, SL Times has leant that Lundin Petroleum AB, Africa Oil and Range Resources are all in some way or another, tied up with each other and may have a common denominator, i.e, the Lundin family.
Source: Somaliland Times
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