- It’s not a country recognised by anyone other than its own government, but that doesn’t seem to phase three oil companies scaling up exploration in Somaliland. UK-listed Genel Energy and Ophir Energy, and Australia-listed Jacka Resources, are starting to explore for oil in earnest in the breakaway state, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. “We are embarking on the largest and most significant exploration this country has seen since it became independent 21 years ago,” oil minister Hussein Abdi Dualeh told beyondbrics from an oil conference in South Africa, hopeful the first drilling will start in 2014 following seismic surveys this year. “They are starting in a major way – it’s going to be a massive year.”
The three explorers cover seven blocks between them and Dualeh insists they have nothing to fear from old claims on some of the blocks issued under the former Mogadishu administration before it collapsed. “The old companies from way back when Somalia was together have long gone. These contracts don’t last forever, they are long expired. I’m not worried they’ll have problems – I have no idea who had what,” says Dualeh. “We have had full control of the territory for 21 years.