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Somalia’s Puntland spurs India oil hope

Thursday, May 17, 2012
By PARUL CHANDRA

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An energy-hungry India has yet another region now on its radar from where it can hope to import a valuable resource, oil. Not many here would be familiar with the Puntland region of Somalia, a country located on the horn of Africa whose name has become synonymous with piracy. But Puntland has recently discovered abundant reserves of oil.

Puntland President Abdir-rahman Mohamed Moha-mud Farole, who is currently on a visit to India, has invited Indian oil companies to participate in oil exploration in Puntland. Mr Farole met Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas, R.P.N Singh here on Wednesday and shared with him details of the recent oil find in Puntland, said official sources.
But what must be heartening for the Indian establishment is the invite Mr Farole has extended to Indian oil companies to come to the region and carry out further exploration. He also “sought India’s cooperation for the further charting out of exploration blocks and training of Somalis in the petroleum sector,” said sources.

Puntland is a region in north-eastern Somalia, bordering Somaliland in the west. In 1998, Puntland’s leaders declared it an autonomous state. Yet, the Puntland region is for the unity of the Somali people unlike Somaliland which advocates secession. Importantly, Puntland is not seeking recognition as a separate country from the world.

Apart from oil, piracy is yet another issue that figured in the talks between the two sides. In his meeting with minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed, the Puntland President said international support is required to explore alternative livelihoods for coastal communities affected by piracy and illegal fishing.

Puntland, he said, has deployed the Puntland maritime police force in Eyl, a former piracy hub.


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