Here are some very interesting articles I found about Somalia and oil....

Copyright 1994 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.  
The Toronto Star 
April 8, 1994, Friday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 321 words 

HEADLINE: Somalia-oil link tops censorship list TV ignored U.S. motives,
says journalism group



A story about how U.S. oil corporations anxious to protect their interests
were driving American peacekeeping efforts in Somalia last year has been
selected by Project Censored Canada as the least-reported story of 1993.
The Los Angeles Times report by Mark Fineman, first reprinted in The Star
and then followed up by The Globe and Mail and Peace Magazine, was among 111
nominated stories submitted to the project, sponsored by the Canadian
Association of Journalists and Simon Fraser University's School of
Communication. Project Censored yesterday published its Top 10 list of
under-reported stories in Canada, stories that judges from media, academia
and public life selected on the basis of their significance to great numbers
of people and how much coverage they received.
"Though the Somalia story did make mainstream newspapers such as The Star
and The Globe, none of the (television) networks picked it up; therefore, it
constitutes an underreported story," said Bill Doskoch, the journalist
association's representative to the project.
"True, some of these stories came to light in mainstream media but it's
interesting that, when the stories challenge rather than support
conventional wisdom, the rest of the media pack is nowhere to be found."
Other stories in the Top 10 include:
* A piece from This Magazine revealing how Brian Mulroney's Tories
"revamped" a 21-year tax rule and "forgave the wealthy millions owed in
* An Ottawa Citizen report on how Canadian companies are doing business with
Indonesia despite its "questionable" human rights record.
* A story from Canadian Press describing how Canadian corporate interests
have hijacked the environmental agenda in order to blunt criticism from
environmentalists. Doskoch said that while the list is not "a damning
indictment" of Canada's media, too many important stories are not getting
the play their significance merits.


Copyright 1993 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.  
The Toronto Star 
January 26, 1993, Tuesday, AM


LENGTH: 106 words 

HEADLINE: Somalia oil rumors go back to the 1960s

   Re Oil firms hope to cash in on Somali peace (Jan. 20). When I was the
attorney-general of Somalia, in the '60s, there were widespread and repeated
rumors that American oil prospectors had actually found plenty of oil in
remote areas of the country.
It was said that the discovery had been kept a secret but locations well
identified for possible use in case of future needs if the gulf became a
troubled area. 
For the sake of that fascinating country (where I grew up) I can only hope
that there is no substance to the rumors and that not a single drop of oil
is found under that soil.

LOAD-DATE: May 12, 1999


Copyright 1993 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.  
The Toronto Star 
January 20, 1993, Wednesday, AM


LENGTH: 1231 words 

HEADLINE: Oil firms hope to cash in on Somali peace

BYLINE: By Mark Fineman Special to The Star


   MOGADISHU - Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four
major U.S. oil companies are sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive
concessions to explore and exploit the Somali countryside.
The land, in the opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield
significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the U.S.-led military mission
can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation.
Nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants
Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before President
Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in
January, 1991, according to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Industry sources said the companies are hoping the decision to send U.S.
troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their
multimillion-dollar investments. Officially, President George Bush's
administration and the state department insist the U.S. military mission in
Somalia is strictly humanitarian.
Oil industry officials dismissed as "absurd" and "nonsense" allegations by
aid experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that
Bush, a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in Somalia at least in part by
the U.S. corporate oil stake.
But corporate and scientific documents disclose that the American companies
are well-positioned to pursue Somalia's most promising potential oil
reserves the moment the nation is pacified.
And the state department and U.S. military officials acknowledge that one of
those oil companies has done more than simply sit back and hope for peace.
Conoco Inc., the only major multinational corporation to maintain a
functioning office in Mogadishu throughout the past two years of nationwide
anarchy, has been directly involved in the U.S. government's role in the
U.N.-sponsored humanitarian military effort.
Conoco's exploration efforts in north-central Somalia reportedly had yielded
the most encouraging prospects just before Siad Barre's fall.
Its Mogadishu corporate compound was transformed into a de facto American
embassy a few days before the U.S. Marines landed in the capital. Bush's
special envoy used it as his temporary headquarters.
In addition, the president of the company's subsidiary in Somalia won high
official praise for serving as the government's volunteer "facilitator"
during the months before and during the U.S. intervention.
Describing the arrangement as "a business relationship," John Geybauer,
spokesperson for Conoco Oil in Houston, said the company was acting as "a
good corporate citizen and neighbor" in granting the U.S. government's
request to be allowed to rent the compound.
But the close relationship between Conoco and the U.S. intervention force
has left many Somalis and foreign development experts deeply troubled by the
blurred line between the U.S. government and the large oil company.
Many liken the Somalia operation to a miniature version of Operation Desert
Storm, the U.S.-led military effort in January, 1991, to drive Iraq from
Kuwait and, more broadly, safeguard the world's largest oil reserves.
Although most oil experts outside Somalia laugh at the suggestion that the
nation ever could rank among the world's major oil producers - and most
maintain the international aid mission is intended simply to feed Somalia's
starving masses - no one doubts there is oil in Somalia.
The only question is how much?
"It's there. There's no doubt there's oil there," said Thomas O'Connor, the
principal petroleum engineer for the World Bank who headed an in-depth,
three-year study of oil prospects in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern
O'Connor, a professional geologist, based his conclusion on the findings of
some of the world's top petroleum geologists.
In a 1991 World Bank co-ordinated study, intended to encourage private
investment in the petroleum potential of eight African nations, the
geologists put Somalia and Sudan at the top of the list of prospective
commercial oil producers.
Presenting their results during a three-day conference in London in
September, 1991, two of those geologists reported that an analysis of nine
exploratory wells indicated the region is "situated within the oil window,
and thus are highly prospective for gas and oil."
A report by a third geologist said offshore sites possess "the geological
parameters conducive to the generation, expulsion and trapping of
significant amounts of oil and gas."
Beginning in 1986, Conoco, along with Amoco, Chevron, Phillips and, briefly,
Shell all sought and obtained exploration licences for northern Somalia from
Siad Barre's government.
Somalia was soon carved up into concessional blocs, with Conoco, Amoco and
Chevron winning the right to explore and exploit the most promising ones.
The companies' interest in Somalia clearly pre-dated the World Bank study.
It was grounded in the findings of another, highly successful exploration
effort by the Texas-based Hunt Oil Corp. across the Gulf of Aden in the
Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen.
Geologists disclosed in the mid-1980s that the estimated 1 billion barrels
of Yemeni oil reserves were part of a great underground rift, or valley,
that arced into and across northern Somalia.
Hunt's Yemeni operation, which is now yielding nearly 200,000 barrels of oil
a day, and their implications for the entire region were not lost on Bush,
who was then vice president.
In fact, Bush witnessed it first-hand in April, 1986, when he officially
dedicated Hunt's new $18 million refinery near the ancient Yemeni town of
In remarks during the event, Bush emphasized the critical value of
supporting U.S. corporate efforts to develop and safeguard potential oil
reserves in the region.
Of the four U.S. companies holding the Siad Barre-era oil concessions,
Conoco is believed to be the only one that negotiated what spokesperson
Geybauer called "a standstill agreement" with an interim government set up
by one of Mogadishu's two principal warlords, Ali Mahdi Mohamed.
Industry sources said the other U.S. companies with contracts in Somalia
cited force majeure (superior power), a legal term asserting that they were
forced by the war to abandon their exploration efforts and would return as
soon as peace is restored.
"It's going to be very interesting to see whether these agreements are still
good," said Mohamed Jirdeh, a prominent Somali businessman in Mogadishu who
is familiar with the oil-concession agreements.
"Whatever Siad did, all those records and contracts, all disappeared after
he fled . . . And this period has brought with it a deep change of our
"Our country is now very weak and, of course, the American oil companies are
very strong. This has to be handled very diplomatically, and I think the
American government must move out of the oil business, or at least make
clear that there is a definite line separating the two, if they want to
maintain a long-term relationship here."
Meanwhile, the first American combat troops flew home from Somalia yesterday
with excitement, relief and a feeling that they brought some stability to
the country, the Associated Press reports.
Col. Fred Peck said he did not know when more of the 24,715 American troops
would be withdrawn.

LOAD-DATE: May 12, 1999

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