Monday, March 06, 2006

New Oil Concession Secretly‎ Signed With An Indian Businessman

Hargeysa, Somaliland, March 4, 2006 – The Somaliland Times can disclose that the Somaliland minister of Minerals and Water, Qassim Sheikh Yusuf has recently awarded an oil exploration and drilling concession to an Indian businessman by the name of Sood.

The deal which took place last month has so far been kept secret from other government officials with the exception of president Rayale and minister of Planning Ahmed Haji Dahir.
According to reliable sources within the ministry of Minerals and Water, a production sharing agreement signed with Mr. Sood gives the later rights to drill for oil in the highly promising block 36, which previously belonged to Chevron. The block is located in the northwesterly part of Somaliland’s long Red Sea coast.

Mr. Sood who until recently ran his own construction firm – Motherland Homes – is reported to have no previous experience in oil drilling. However after he was introduced to Mr. Rayale through a Somaliland businessman a few months ago, to close friendship soon developed between Mr. Sood and the Somaliland president.

The relationship paid off with the Indian businessman walking away with an agreement that has strangely enough been concluded without a signature bonus being paid to the public treasury.
It is not the first time that senior Somaliland government officials have been involved in dubious agreements with foreigners posing as potential investors.

In 2003, Mr. Rayale was deceived by a Norwegian called Magne Andreas Meier who passed himself as an executive of a leading European oil company known as “Inverse International”. Meier was arrested on last August in Oslo to stand trial for swindling Norwegian citizens of money.

It was only last month when the government announced that it was holding discussions with a group of foreign investment companies with the aim of establishing joint venture enterprises worth billions of dollars. Later the visitors turned out to be a group of mainly Sri Lankan small traders who were encouraged to come to Somaliland by one of their countrymen who already had established himself in Hargeysa as a dealer in second hand cars and gemstones.
However among all the ministries, the ministry of Minerals and Water has gained an extra notoriety for signing oil agreements in secrecy and without scrutinizing the credentials of its would be partners.

For instance an oil agreement was signed last year with a company called Enex. Only the president and his minister of Minerals and Water were involved in the negotiations that led to the deal.

Another controversial agreement gave a Somaliland born businessman who live in Europe the rights to Hargeysa block 26. Non of these transactions were reported to the council of ministers let alone the parliament.

Another oil exploration company with the name of Rova Energy that was given a concession to drill at east of Berbera several years ago hasn’t been heard of since.

Source: Somaliland Times

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