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.
EU Commissioner for Jobs, Growth and Investment and Competitiveness Jryki Katainen told reporters "we should forget this phrase" when asked if that meant granting market economy status to China.
Militancy has reduced revenue from oil industry by half, senior official says
The grant was signed Monday in Nairobi to mitigate impact of forced displacements on refugee hosting communities in East Africa
The EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom made the comment while speaking to Chinese students in Beijing ahead of a China-EU summit.
Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai concludes with pledge to push efforts toward trade liberalization and facilitation
Brexit raises uncertainty for consumer, investor confidence, ratings agency says
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney eases lending rules after vote for Brexit
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, or BMPS, is among the banks at the forefront of those concerns with gross bad loans amounting to 46.9 billion euros ($52 billion).
Fund to be used in support of education, health, municipal, socio-economic support for refugees in Turkey
Turkish Statistical Institute says energy prices drive fall in imports
Given all the uncertainty, investors were pricing in a chance of a rate cut with some analysts expecting the Bank of England to consider quantitative easing to cushion the economy
The Egyptian stock index was down 5.8 percent in early afternoon.
The pound sterling sees its lowest level against the the US dollar in over 30 years
A subsequent survey that included people of all ages found that somewhat older Americans also are skeptical of capitalism.