- Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSA, RDSA.LN) African exploration interests are currently focused on Tanzania and Zanzibar, CEO Peter Voser said Thursday, though he also mentioned the oil giant has blocks of land available in Somalia.
Mr. Voser's Somalia comments are the clearest indication yet the Anglo-Dutch major may exercise exploration rights that are more than 20 years old, signed before the African nation descended into brutal civil war. He addressed the company's interests in Africa with reporters on the sidelines of a luncheon in Boston.
"We have our exploration blocks in Tanzania Zanzibar and that has all of our focus at the moment," Mr. Voser said, while declining to address a reporter's question about Mozambique.
Meantime, "we have also further blocks further north in Somalia. So we are pursuing our organic exploration strategy," the CEO also said.
Shell, along with fellow oil majors BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) and Chevron Corp. (CVX), were granted exploration licenses for Somalia by the then-government of Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, whose regime was toppled in 1991. The companies declared force majeure and quit Somalia as the country descended into lawlessness.
Speculation has swirled since the election of a new permanent president last year as to whether big Western oil companies would be encouraged to return, bringing much needed investment.
The issue has been complicated by two semi-autonomous regions in northern Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, which have granted their own licenses to smaller, more prospective explorers, some which overlap with earlier licenses handed out to other firms.
Mr. Voser addressed broader themes in his address to the Boston College-hosted event, such as how booming natural gas supplies can help lessen greenhouse gas emissions.
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