Offshore oil mixed blessing for Somalia
Somalia looks more likely to strike oil than gas in its long pursuit of offshore riches, making it easier for the African state to exploit any windfall but also potentially upsetting the fragile recovery led by its Western-backed government.
The waters off Somalia, best known for years of piracy, may harbour hydrocarbons at a depth where crude is usually found, seismic services company Spectrum said last week its research showed. This is unlike the seas further south along the African coastline where gas is abundant.
That would be good news for Somalia, which would likely find pumping out oil onto tankers easier than securing the multi-billion dollar investment needed to liquefy gas for export.
Oil revenues could transform Somalia’s economy, where many people rely on subsistence livestock farming.
However, it could prove a challenge for a government trying to rebuild a nation battered by clan rivalries and Islamist insurgents after it descended into war in 1991. Some fear oil rigs could also become a new target for pirates, who were the scourge of commercial shipping on nearby trade routes.