Kenya yet to vacate Somalia’s maritime territory months after ICJ judgement
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The republic of Kenya is apparently yet to vacate Somalia’s Indian Ocean maritime territory, it has now emerged, a year after the International Court of Justice [ICJ] ruled in favor of the Horn of Africa nation in the disputed oil-rich deposits within tht coastal strip.
Reports from Nairobi show that the country failed to strike oil and gas deposits in the disputed area, long even after the court settled the matter, in what could trigger a fresh battle of a diplomatic row between the two countries which enjoy a mutual relationship.
Seismic surveys at Mlima-1 well, which is known as Block L11B in the Lamu Basin, revealed that the wells were dry, ending a 10-year search for oil in the coastline that had emerged as one of the world’s hottest exploration prospects, The Business Daily reports.
The ENI Kenya Business Venture [BV] which was tasked to explore the oil vacated the projected area which Kenya believed would add to its ever-precious commodity, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority [Epra] confirmed in a statement.
The permit given to the company generated the border duel between Kenya and Somalia in 2012, forcing the current Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to take the matter to ICJ. The matter was ruled in favor of Somalia last year during the reign of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
Kenya stepped up exploration activities in the Lamu Basin in December last year, weeks after rejecting a UN court ruling that decided mostly in favor of Somalia in the maritime row. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta maintained that Nairobi would not respect the ruling.
“There was promising activity but unfortunately, they [ENI] hit a dry well and they had to close the operations,” Epra said.
The start of the exploration sparked a diplomatic tiff with Somalia after Mogadishu accused Nairobi of encroaching on its mineral resources. Somalia lodged a case before the International Court of Justice [ICJ] in August 2014 over the strip believed to harbor oil, natural gas and mineral reserves.
With new governments now, it’s not clear what the two countries would decide but both President William Ruto and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have pledged to rectify the bitter past which saw the two nations severe ties over the maritime border and the fight against Al-Shabaab militants in the country.
There are close to 3,500 active Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation who are actively involved in the Al-Shabaab war. Relationships between the two nations, while at the bottom low, have often caused unimaginable suffering to the country.