Somalia Invites Turkey to Explore Sea Oil

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to conduct energy drilling and exploration operations in its seas.

"We had a proposal from Somalia. They said that Somalia had oil in its seas. [They said] as in Libya, [we] could do the same [drilling operations] in [Somalia]," Erdogan told journalists on the presidential plane returning from a summit in Berlin on Sunday, where world powers discussed the situation in Libya.

Erdogan said Ankara was intending to honour the invitation. "There would be steps that we will take there. This is something beneficial for us," he said.

According to seismic data processing firm Seismic Geo, there is a high potential for hydrocarbon exploration off Somalia's shores. The country last week passed a new petroleum law to attract foreign investment in the energy sector from giant firms such as ExxonMobil and Shell.

Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, the Somali minister in charge of petroleum and mineral resources, announced last October that the country was opening up 15 blocks for oil companies to bid on for exploration and production licences.

Turkey and Somalia have been growing close in the past decade due to a deepening of commercial and military ties, with Ankara well aware of the economic and political gains to be made in the Horn of Africa.

Since Erdogan's historic visit to the capital Mogadishu during a deadly famine in 2011, Turkey has been providing tens of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to Somalia. Turkey has also built a military base in the Somali capital to train local forces. The Mogadishu international airport and the sea port are run by Turkish companies.

The estimated bilateral trade between the two countries is now around 250 million dollars, as Turkey invested 100 million dollars in the country.

Turkish companies and workers were targeted in two separate deadly bombing attacks in the last two months by al-Shabab, a local Al-Qaeda affiliate.

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