Turkey targets Somalia for oil drilling

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 23 January 2020

Turkey targets Somalia for oil drilling

  • Ankara has been increasing its footprint in the country since 2011

ANKARA: Turkey is to drill for oil off the shores of Somalia after an invitation from the Horn of Africa nation to explore its seas, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. 

Somalia adopted a new petroleum law last week to attract further foreign investment in the energy field, and opened up 15 blocks for oil companies that are willing to explore the country’s hydrocarbon potential.

Turkey has been increasing its footprint in Somalia, especially since 2011 when it began providing the country with humanitarian aid to tackle a famine problem, and is also signing energy and resource deals with African countries.

It will start exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean this year after signing a maritime agreement with Libya, and has a deal with Niger to carry out mineral research and exploration activities.

“There is a proposal from Somalia,” Erdogan said on Monday. “They are saying: ‘There is oil in our seas. You are carrying out these operations with Libya, but you can also do them here.’ This is very significant for us.” Turkish engineers are carrying out infrastructure work in Somalia, but contractors are increasingly being targeted in terror attacks.

Local forces have been trained by Turkish officers at a military base that was built by Turkey in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Ibrahim Nassir, an Africa analyst from Ankara-based think tank Ankasam, said the Somali drilling offer might be payback for some of the reconstruction work and humanitarian aid. But he also suggested that Somalia might be using Turkey as a counterbalance against its regional rivals.

FASTFACT

Turkey has been increasing its footprint in Somalia, especially since 2011 when it began providing the country with humanitarian aid to tackle a famine problem, and is also signing energy and resource deals with African countries.

“The dispute over maritime territory in the Indian Ocean between Kenya and Somalia might result in security risks during drilling activities, and some armed groups may be used to prevent Ankara from proceeding with hydrocarbon exploitation,” he told Arab News.

Jędrzej Czerep, a senior analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, said that Turkish oil extraction from Somalia could be presented as stealing national wealth.

“That would expose the Turks to greater risks both on the mainland and at sea where Al-Shabab is using motor ships. It could also divide the growing Somali diaspora in Istanbul or even radicalize some of its members,” he told Arab News.

An unstable political situation in Somalia could expose Turkey further, according to Atlantic Council senior associate Charles Ellinas. The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is set to be held in April in Turkey.

“It is not just the short term one should be worried about,” he told Arab News. “It is also the longer term. It takes something like 20 years to recover the investment from an oilfield. And during that period oil sales must be maintained. As things stand, with a very unstable political environment, upheavals in Somalia over such a period are quite likely.”


Morocco reimposes Tangiers lockdown after virus spike

Updated 13 July 2020

Morocco reimposes Tangiers lockdown after virus spike

RABAT: Morocco on Monday announced a return to lockdown measures in the northern port city of Tangiers to smother a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus, weeks after easing nationwide restrictions.
The city of about a million inhabitants was locked down from Monday at noon local time, with public transport suspended, cafes and public spaces closed and movement restricted.
Residents are only allowed to leave their homes “in cases of extreme necessity,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement, adding that “exceptional authorization from local authorities” would be required for movement within or beyond the city.
Authorities decided to reimpose the measures to “prevent the spread of the virus” after “new infection clusters” appeared, it said.
The northern city, within sight of the Spanish coast on a clear day, has a vast port and is a key economic hub linking Africa with Europe and beyond.
Morocco had imposed strict nationwide lockdown measures after recording its first COVID-19 cases in March.
It began easing them in June and has since reopened cafes and restaurants, allowing domestic visitors to restart its vital tourism sector.
Its borders remain closed until further notice, except to Moroccans and residents abroad, who will be able to return from Tuesday onwards.
But despite masks being mandatory in public, new localized outbreaks of the disease have forced the shutdown of several cities.
An outbreak at a fish canning factory prompted authorities to lock down Safi, a town of 300,000 on the Atlantic coast, in early July.
The kingdom, with a population of 34 million, has recorded over 15,000 infections including 253 deaths.