PRESS RELEASE Somalia: Puntland President Officially Launches Oil Drilling Operations

January 17, 2012 - Written by

Drilling for the first exploratory well in Puntland State of Somalia commenced on Monday, in a well-organized event attended by Puntland President H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole) and Africa Oil Corp. President and CEO Mr. Keith Hill, among other dignitaries including former Puntland. President H.E. Mohamud Muse Hersi (Adde Muse), Range Resources CEO Mr. Peter Landau, Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, traditional elders (Issims), religious scholars, businesspeople, civil society groups, and oil company executives.

The event was held in Dharoor Valley in Puntland’s Bari region, where drilling of the first exploratory well named ‘Shabeel-1’ commenced at a location approximately 110km southeast of Puntland’s commercial port of Bossaso. The ‘spud ceremony’, as the event is referred to in the oil industry, featured speeches by the President of Puntland, the CEO of Africa Oil Corp., the CEO of Horn Petroleum Mr. David Grellman, and traditional elders.

Puntland traditional elders Garaad Abdullahi Ali Eid and Sultan Abdisalam Sultan Mohamud told the gathering that the Puntland communities fully support the exploration project. “Mr. President, I want to declare to you today that you are not alone in your commitment and your endeavor to alleviate poverty. We the traditional elders will support you and we will be with you,” said a traditional elder.

Mr. Hill, the CEO of Africa Oil Corp., briefed the audience about the process and the many years it took for the project to reach today’s remarkable development. “This project is a result of the pioneering effort that began with Mr. Peter Landau [CEO of Range Resources, Ltd] many years ago,” said Mr. Hill, who thanked the people and Government of Puntland for providing commitment and support during this project. Particularly, Mr. Hill thanked the efforts and good offices of President Farole and Mr. Issa Farah, Director of Puntland Petroleum and Minerals Agency.

Continuing, Mr. Hill explained the expected outcome of the drilling project: “This project will take 60 to 90 days for the drilling rig to find a result. This project requires time, resources and effort.” President Farole thanked the participants and the visiting representatives from

the oil companies who signed a deal with Puntland Government – Range Resources, Ltd., and Africa Oil Corp. “All Praise is due to Allah Almighty. I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Government security forces who stand day and night to defend our

State and our way of life,” said Puntland’s leader. The President noted that the commencement of drilling operations marks a

“historic day” and that today marks the realization of a dream. President Farole said: “For over 50 years, we have been waiting for oil drilling  to begin so our people can benefit from our natural resources. So that our people may overcome the problems of underdevelopment, such as poverty, recurrent droughts and unemployment.” He noted that an exploration project “requires massive resources, including human and financial capital, technical know-how and technological capabilities. We in Puntland or Somalia do not have such resources. So we thank the brave companies who invested in our country. For our side, we are required to ensure security, cooperation and patience.”

Continuing, the President said: “For many years, we have been seeking assistance from rich countries to help us build our economic infrastructure – roads, ports, airports, and others. As we all know, Puntland was neglected by all central governments of Somalia in the past. Benefiting from our natural resources gives our people the opportunity to develop our country and the ability to help others.”

President Farole spoke clearly about resource-sharing, stating: “If oil wealth is found here, Puntland will benefit and Somalia will benefit, pending a Somali Federal Constitution that guarantees state and federal rights. For those who think that Puntland is greedy and will benefit alone, let us remember that Puntland will share its resources with the rest of Somalia.” President Farole, accompanied by government officials and oil company representatives, was given a tour of the exploration facility.

The ceremony concluded with an on-site lunch. Afterwards, President Farole led a delegation including Interior Minister Abdullahi Ahmed Jama (Ilkajir) to Djibouti, while the visiting oil company executives, led by Africa Oil Corp. Mr. Keith Hill and Range Resources CEO Peter Landau, flew to Addis Ababa on a separate plane. It is the first time that an exploration rig has commenced drilling operations in any part of Somalia since the outbreak of civil war in 1991. —

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