Somalia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources on Wednesday warned British company Genel Energy Plc against oil exploration in the Somaliland regions in the north of the country, Anadolu Agency reported.

The warning came in a press release issued by the ministry after the British company announced it had concluded an oil exploration agreement with Somaliland.

On 15 December, the British company announced on Twitter that it had completed geotechnical survey operations in Somaliland, and that it would start planning for major civil engineering works in 2023.

The Somali ministry’s statement affirmed that the British company had not obtained any official authorisation from Somalia to carry out petroleum exploration operations in the northern regions of the country, known as Somaliland.

Somaliland is a de facto sovereign state in the Horn of Africa, still considered internationally to be part of Somalia.

It added that the Somali government clearly rejects the company’s claim that it owns rights to conduct petroleum exploration operations in the northern regions of Somalia.

The British company signed two agreements with Somaliland in 2012 and 2021 to explore oil in the region.

According to the statement, the Somali government demanded that the company stop what Somalia considered as illegal exploitation of its petroleum rights. It also demanded that the company stop carrying out any petroleum operations that violate Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity or unity.