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Puntland: A Clear & Present Danger
By Ahmed Behi, Geologist
Puntland is an integral part of Somalia. Nothing has ever stated that either this is an autonomous region or a self-governing state within a state.
Puntland can at most claim its borders within a defined territory of colonial Somalia and not beyond
Although Somaliland is a self-declared Republic, separated from Somalia, the former as an ex-British protectorate, had very well-defined border confirming its territorial identity, recognized by the world as such on its independence.
Puntland map, as shown in the Australian Maverick Range Resources brochure, as indeed defined by Puntland itself, as a mere fantasy
Large tracts of ground within the defined Somaliland border are shown (fig) as integral parts of Somaliland. This is exemplified in not just inclusion of Las Anod but huge sections of Somaliland edging towards Budhudle in the south to close to Erigavo in the north. Even Burao is not far from Puntland's proposed limit.
The main thesis of this expansion within the Somaliland territory is based on:
Acquiring known oil and gas areas such as belonging to the American Oil Company Conoco (blocks 27, 28, & 29). Only part of 29 legitimately falls within Puntland.
Acquiring other oil & gas blocks (at least in part) previously known as 36, 33(onshore) and M10(offshore).
Known mineral resources in those areas of Somaliland where potential could be of economic significance. A few examples are: (1) tin, gold and manganese in the northwestern of Somaliland (near), (2) uranium in the Sool region (Dusa Mareb type), (3) Syngenetic sedimentary or volcanic exhalative type lead-zinc deposits within the evaporitic sequence, within the extensive eastern sedimentary basin, and (4) coal resources extending from Berbera to Aulula, whereby a significant section of higher grade coal occurring within the claimed areas.
It is obvious that’s claims of the Somaliland territory are primarily “resources driven” with a strong emphasis on the hydrocarbon sector
Of course the other key motive behind such a claim is entirely political. Any territorial dispute and subsequent Somaliland’s effort to defend its territorial integrity are viewed negatively by international community whist debating over the Somaliland’s recognition issue
Greed is also a significant factor in Puntland claims. Offering areas of known oil and gas potential to international companies has already generated income for Punt land. For example, Range Resources paid US$1.5M for rights to all mineral exploration in Puntland. Range raised fund from Australian Stock Exchange and from the Private Equity in sums very much higher than what was “officially’ given to and its Associates!!. Range also made a deal (now appears to be defunct) with the Korean National Oil Company whereby Range received US$10M in cash for giving a 75% operating rights to the Knoc as well as promise for Knoc to spend US$15M in the first 3 years exploration on the Conoco blocks 28 & 29!!!
What one really wonders here is that: How can Range operating with ’s blessing alone, successfully convince the international community as well as experienced operators investors to spend money so freely on disputed territories- or is there a collusion with “others“!! ??
Resolving Puntland issue is of pivotal importance in Somaliland’s recognition. Couple that with some of the best resources in the country, especially oil and gas, to be swallowed illegally and for sheer greed, is a volatile mixture that could jeopardize Somaliland economy and recognition.
Conoco oil and gas areas do indeed hold the best potential for discovering large scale – mega fields - within the Somaliland territory, On these block (27, 28 &29) the best geological coincidences occur for the hydrocarbon accumulation, in the most promising reservoirs and in appropriate traps. Somaliland should focus here before ay where else. After all Kalis-1 and Nogal-1(the 2 wells drilled by Conoco in the mid-80s) did provide much more than the best encouragement, by proving the existence of the source of the hydrocarbon, and perhaps the best chance for a commercial scale discovery.
Fighting for the territorial right, therefore, is must for Somaliland. We must seek diplomatic efforts and most of all ensure that through no channels whatsoever, any opportunity is given to anyone to collude with Puntland or the likes of Range Resources.
Source: The Republican