By Zakayo Mwangi
A maritime border dispute case filed by Somalia before the International Court of Justice is likely to affect other countries in the region should the court rule in Somalia’s favor.
The case that has currently been shelved as the two countries try a new round of dialogue would also place three Tanzanian blocks in dispute should the court favor the median line petition and not the currently existing horizontal border line.
Among Tanzanian blocks that would be open to dispute include Blocks 12, 11 and 10 with a possibility of a portion of Block 9 also likely to be included. Three of this blocks are licensed to Shell and the last Dominion Energy.
Kenya would also have a right to claim a portion of Pemba Island that lies directly South East its border with its neighbor Tanzania.
Currently hope lies on dialogue between Somalia and Kenya with the two countries said to be considering it as a means to settle the dispute.
“Pending such an agreement or understanding, Somalia requests the Commission not to take any steps that would prejudice any future bilateral delimitation in the maritime area concerned,” the Business Daily quotes a request by Somalia to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
In late August Somalia filed a maritime dispute case at the Hague based court laying claim to a triangle of water stretching more than 100,000 a sq kilometers (approx. 40,000 sq miles) of which Kenya has awarded exploration contracts to various international companies.
“Kenya’s current position on the maritime boundary is that it should be a straight line emanating from the Parties’ land boundary terminus, and extending due east along the parallel of latitude on which the land boundary terminus sits, through the full extent of the territorial sea, EEZ and continental shelf, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles],” reads an application by Somalia.
Following the dispute Kenya risked losing seven blocks including include Blocks L5, L21, L22, L23, L24 and L26 some of which are licensed to companies including Eni, Andarko and Total.
Somalia has also filed similar cases against Tanzania and Yemen.
Part of the reason for the maritime dispute could be as a result of considered oil and gas potential in the East African coast that has seen large discoveries of natural gas especially in Tanzania and Mozambique and which is considered to extend northwards towards the Red Sea.