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Somalia creates oil contracts registry as Petroleum Ministry affirms it lacks documentation

Storyline:Business, National News

All oil companies operating in Somalia will now be required to submit copies of contracts signed with current and past regimes, the cabinet resolved Thursday.

Through the Petroleum Registry Resolution, under the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the government will now record the various petroleum interests including contracts and concessions held by firms that recognise their right to conduct petroleum operations in Somalia.

No documentation

This comes amid confirmation by the Petroleum Ministry that it lacks copies of most of the existing contracts, agreements or other documentation between prior regimes and oil companies which assert rights to conduct petroleum operations in Somalia.

The cabinet resolved there was need to recreate data for administration of oil contracts in the country  to ensure future stability of petroleum exploration in Somalia.

Multiple international oil companies, IOCs have signed oil exploration contracts with a number of regimes in Somalia both at the Federal and the regional level. Some oil companies declared force majeure following the outbreak of war in 1991.

Questionable contracts

The development is likely to bring into question a number of current and past contracts some of which have been questionable. It is not clear how the ministry of Petroleum intends to reconcile contracts signed by regional administrations some of which have folded up.

Petroleum Registries are widely used for the administration of petroleum interests by governments.

The Federal Government last year signed an oil exploration contract with UK based Spectrum ASA in September 5 last year two days after the regional administration Puntland inked a similar deal with Texas based ION Geophysical Corporation.

The 2013 Seismic Agreement Option with the UK oil explorer Soma Oil and Gas sparked off controversy locally and internationally over claims of alleged corruption, a development which saw the UK Serious Fraud Office open investigations into the working Soma Oil.