Edinburgh-based oil and gas contractor Cairn Energy has been singled out for being complicit in human rights abuses in Africa.
A new report by War on Want has named Cairn Energy, among other UK oil and gas companies, as turning a blind eye to human rights in its pursuit of oil and minerals. The report also stated that British oil and gas companies control resources that are worth more than $1 trillion, but this is at the expense of human rights and the environment.
The report has criticised Cairn Energy for its plans to explore for oil and gas in Western Sahara. This disputed region in north-west Africa is bordered by Morocco towards the north. Morocco has been occupying a large part of Western Sahara since 1975. As a result, thousands of people have been displaced and forced into refugee camps in Algeria’s desert. About 165,000 refugees currently reside in these camps.
War on Want stated that by signing deals with the government of Morocco, oil and gas companies like Cairn Energy are party to the violent and illegal occupation of Western Sahara. It also stated that in 2013, Cairn Energy managed to secure a 20% interest in the Cap Boujdour region off the coast of Western Sahara.
Cairn Energy is part of a consortium that is headed by Kosmos Energy, a US oil and gas company. This consortium also includes the government of Morocco.
War on Want added that Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara is against international law, which has given rights to the Sahrawi people to decide the status of their homeland and the way they want to use the resources. In 2013, Cairn Energy’s press release stated that it had won the right to explore in the offshore exploration block of Morocco. This release did not mention Western Sahara whatsoever.