Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has asked international banks to halt further funding of the US oil firm Kosmos Energy. The company is exploring for oil offshore occupied Western Sahara.
Should Morocco – through its US partner Kosmos Energy – discover oil offshore Western Sahara, it will undermine the UN peace process in the territory, and risk destabilising the fragile ceasefire in the region. International law, reflected in a 2002 legal opinion for the UN Security Council, it is clear that Kosmos Energy’s oil search in the territory is illegal.
Despite of this, Kosmos continues its programme offshore the occupied territory.
While maintaining its programme offshore Western Sahara, Kosmos is also the operator of a major oil find offshore Ghana. To develop the Ghana block, Kosmos earlier this year increased its project finance debt facilities by US$350 million, through agreements with Standard Chartered Bank, BNP Paribas SA, Société Generale, Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, Crédit Suisse International, Citibank, N.A., Natixis, HSBC Bank and FirstRand Bank Limited.
WSRW has now appealed to these banks, as well as to International Finance Corporation and Africa Finance Corporation, to suspend further funding to the company.
“We believe that your financial support to the company is highly unfortunate. It is our opinion that the firm shows no respect for the community in which it operates. We call on your firm to take measures as a responsible financial institution and avoid any further financial support to Kosmos, including in Ghana, until the firm has introduced and implemented a CSR policy, and started to respect the fundamental principles of human rights”, stated Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) in a letter to the banks this week.
WSRW has for several years urged Kosmos to leave the territory, to no avail.
“This small group of international banks has a golden opportunity to contribute in stopping an escalation of the conflict in Western Sahara. When the drilling in the occupied territory begins, the banks do not wish to be associated with this unethical firm. They need to address this issue with Kosmos while they still have a chance to do so”, stated Maiju Kaipiainen, chair of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
Kosmos carried seismic surveys offshore Western Sahara in 2009.
Source: WSRW, December 12, 2010;