Kenya summons envoy to Somalia over disputed oil territory

By Helen Nyambura on 2/17/2019
Photo: Tullow Oil.

NAIROBI (Bloomberg) -- Kenya summoned its ambassador to Somalia after the Horn of Africa neighbor decided to auction offshore oil and gas blocks the nation considers to be in its territory.

The East African nations have been embroiled in a maritime dispute, which Somalia in 2015 presented to the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ top judicial body. In 2013, Kenya’s Energy Ministry proposed that the boundary run in a straight line, similar to the one established in the south with Tanzania, where rich offshore natural-gas deposits have been discovered.

“The summons is a consequence of a most regretful and egregious decision by the government of Somalia to auction off oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area,” Kenya’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. It also sent Somalia’s ambassador home for consultations.

Somalia, with mainland Africa’s longest coastline, is trying to capitalize on its natural resources as it seeks to rebuild an economy decimated by decades of clan warfare and an Islamist militant insurgency known as al-Shabaab. Kenya contributes troops to an African Union force supporting the Somali state against the al-Qaeda linked group.

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