Somalia Oil conference in London draws 'strong opposition'
LONDON, UK - Hundreds of Somalis in the Diaspora have staged a mass rally outside Claridge's Hotel in central London on Thursday against an International conference on Somalia Oil and Gas, Garowe Online reports.
The alarmed protesters who were reported to have come from different countries in Europe have been carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans opposing auction of offshore oil blocks at the London event.
They [demonstrators] shouted "Farmajo and Khaire down"..."We don't have leaders we have dealers" We won't know the outcome of this shadowy conference".
The Senate has termed the forum "unconstitutional" as the parliament is yet to pass the petroleum law and there is a dispute between the central government and the Federal States on the resource sharing.
Somalia's Petroleum Minister, Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed who attended the meeting has dispelled flagellations that the government plans to illegally auction the offshore Oil blocks to foreign investors.
Ahmed added that the London summit was aimed at presenting the results of seismic surveys and showcase possible locations in Somalia where oil reserves can be extracted in the future.
"The conference was held to reveal the legal and regulatory framework and present the geological gained through insight 2D seismic data. This is not a licensing bid round to auction off oil blocks," he said.
The controversial Somalia Oil and Gas conference was hosted by Spectrum, the seismic data processing company which attendance of international firms eying investment in the country's natural resource.
Last year, the Federal Government of Somalia attended Africa Oil Week in Cape Town, South Africa and announced a first round of bidding on offshore acreages in 206 blocks, mainly in southern Somalia.
In 2015, the UN Monitoring Group accused Soma Oil and Gas Exploration Limited of paying nearly $600,000 to protect and expand its 2013 agreement with Somalia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, saying these “quid pro quo” arrangements undermine Somali public institutions through corruption.