World Bulletin / News Desk
Somalia's government accused Kenya on Friday of awarding offshore oil and gas exploration blocks illegally to multinationals Total and Eni because the concessions lie in waters claimed by Somalia.
The spat between Kenya and its war-ruined neighbour could complicate the hunt for resources along a part of the East African coastline, rapidly emerging as one of the world's hottest oil exploration prospects.
Somalia's deputy energy minister, Abdullahi Dool, said contracts awarded for four blocks in deep waters were invalid and the government planned to complain to the United Nations, which oversees maritime border laws.
"We are concerned about the lease of blocks," Dool told Reuters. "I am sure we will lodge complaints."
The blocks are among seven awarded by Kenya last week, three of them to Italy's Eni and one to France's Total .
They lie in an area long contested by Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy, and Somalia, wrecked by more than two decades of civil war, split between an interim government and Islamist insurgents and serving as the main base for Indian Ocean pirates.
Kenya rejected the accusation that ownership of the blocks was contested and said there was no need to hold up exploration.
Kenya's first major oil discovery in March has raised expectations of more to come.
"Saying these are not Kenyan blocks is like saying we don't have a full-fledged government, like we are a banana republic," petroleum commissioner Martin Heya said.
An Eni spokesman said the company would not comment on the challenge to its rights to blocks L21, L23 and L24. Total, awarded block 122, did not respond to requests for comment.
Kenya says the maritime boundary, over which there is no formal agreement, should run due east from the point at which the land border meets the coast, like the maritime boundaries of other countries along the coast.
Somalia says the boundary should extend perpendicular to the coastline, giving it a big chunk of the waters claimed by Kenya.
The dispute mirrors those in other parts of Africa where resources straddle boundaries that were first drawn only vaguely by colonial era map makers.
Kenya and Somalia signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009 that the border would run east along the line of latitude, but Somalia, which has lacked an effective central government since 1991, then rejected the agreement in parliament.
The quarrel over the oil blocks strains otherwise close ties between Kenya and the Somali government. In fact, Kenya sent troops into Somalia last year to attack fighters who control swathes of the country.
Joshua Brien, a legal adviser with the Commonwealth Secretariat who is advising Kenya on the matter, said no legal boundary can be established until both governments sign a U.N.-approved agreement or move the issue to an international court.
"It's not impossible they could come to a resolution, but the situation in Somalia is so uncertain," Brien told Reuters by phone from London.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ethiopian and Norwegian governments at a cost of over $2.8 million.
Kerry will be heading the U.S. team at the annual Strategic Dialogue with India on Thursday, and will be accompanied by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
A total of $610.6 million has been allocated for the implementation of the Ethiopian part of the project, with the funds coming from the Ethiopian government, international financial institutions and donor organizations.
Cukurova Holding to pay back $1.57 billion loan to rival shareholder Alfa by August 1, or face losing control of mobile phone operator
In March, Sweden was among the donor countries that had announced aid cuts to Uganda after the signing of the anti-homosexuality law
A Moscow court told Reuters a regional branch of Rospotrebnadzor had asked it to declare production and sales of some McDonald's products illegal after the watchdog agency carried out inspections of McDonald's restaurants last June.
Although the likely consumer is Europe, which would require pipelines to pass through Turkey, companies may decide instead to export gas from the Levant basin to Jordan, Egypt or the Asian continent.
The ambassadors did agree to add more people and entities to the EU's asset freeze list, using expanded criteria including Russian companies that help to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty
Washington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning U.S. firms from buying it outright.
The whistleblower's email said GSK used its own employees and Syrian distributor Maatouk Group to make illicit payments.
The hackers broke into a database storing details of people who had registered for ECB conferences, visits and other events, the bank said.
Russia generated $356 billion from oil, gas exports last year, data shows.
While stopping far short of targeting physical energy supplies, EU ministers for the first time this week raised the idea of restricting Russian access to oil and gas technology.
They were among nine organisations and three people added to the EU's Syria sanctions list, published in the bloc's Official Journal
Land reform remains a sensitive issue in South Africa, where 20 years after the end of apartheid the white minority still holds around 87 percent of commercial farm land.
Talks are reportedly underway for a number of investment projects, including in pharmaceuticals and automotive assembly, but no final investment agreements are expected this week.