LONDON—A British oil exploration firm has been accused of corrupt payments to government officials in Somalia in return for rights to explore offshore for hydrocarbons, a claim the company denies.
No one knows exactly how much oil and gas lies off Somalia’s coast, but some industry experts estimate the figure at 110 billion barrels.
In 2013, the British start-up firm Soma Oil and Gas signed an agreement with the Somali government to explore for hydrocarbons — the first exploration deal since Somalia plunged into civil war in the early 1990s.
Soma’s Chief Executive Bob Sheppard told VOA the site offers enough potential — if realized — to kick-start Somalia’s war-ravaged economy.
“So we think we’ve really started the hydrocarbon regime in Somalia, and … as a result of that, we hope, with a bit of luck and some patience and commitment, that this Somalia can turn to be one of the major hydrocarbon provinces in East Africa,” Sheppard said.
The deal included what’s known as a "capacity building program" that is intended, Sheppard says, to pay the wages of key personnel, such as geologists. READ MORE OF THIS STORY ON VOA NEWS WEBSITE