Soma Oil and Gas Holdings Ltd. has asked the British government to help block a UN proposal for a moratorium on oil deals in Somalia, Bloomberg reported.
This was in a formal letter to the Foreign Office requesting a meeting and urging the government to protect the company’s Somali business interests.
The Foreign Office confirmed it received the letter and said it couldn’t comment on the unpublished UN Monitoring Group report. “The U.K. government continues to advise the federal government of Somalia on the importance of having an effective legal and regulatory framework in place before signing oil contracts,” it said in a statement e-mailed on September 28.
Sources informed Bloomberg that the UN Monitoring Group report, to be released this month, will repeat its 2013 recommendations that the Security Council ban any oil deals in Somalia. The UN declined to comment.
Soma, a U.K.-based explorer, is already under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. The UN Monitoring Group, moreover, had provided information to the SFO about Soma’s activities with allegations of corruption.
It is also worth noting, to cite The Guardian, that the former Conservative party leader, Michael Howard, was the chair of Soma.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had also announced this week that he is sending troops to Somalia, reportedly to assist in efforts to counter the Islamist group al‑Shabaab.
Somalia has been a priority for Cameron for a long time, having hosted international conferences on Somalia in London in 2012 and 2013, having top officials visit the country, and promising generous amounts of aid.
The abovementioned UN report had actually warned that oil deals might fuel violence and corruption in the country because of lax regulations governing the petroleum sector. There are already 22,000 African Union troops in Somali helping the fight against al-Shabaab, which is an al-Qaeda-linked group.