British media say the governmentís move to offer
humanitarian aid and security assistance to Somalia is aimed at winning
a stake in country's future energy industry.
In a report published Saturday, The
Guardian revealed Britainís involvement in a secret high-stakes dash
for oil in Somalia.
Somalia, a former British colony, has been suffering decades of conflict
and is known as a hotbed of piracy plaguing international shipping in
the Indian Ocean.
In early February, British Foreign Secretary William Hague paid an
unannounced visit to Somalia to become the first British Foreign
Secretary to visit Mogadishu in almost two decades.
He also appointed Matt Baugh as Britain's first ambassador to war-torn
Somalia, which he described the country as "the world's most failed
Last week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron hosted an international
conference on Somalia where he pledged more aid, financial help and
measures to fight terrorism in the African nation.
The Guardian report,
however, described the summit as talks between British officials and
Somali counterparts over exploiting intact oil reserves in the arid
northeastern part of Somalia.
"We have spoken to a number of UK officials, some have offered to help
us with the future management of oil revenues. They will help us build
our capacity to maximize future earnings from the oil industry," the
report cited Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, the minister for international
cooperation in the autonomous Puntland region, as saying.
Puntland is an region in northeastern Somalia, where the first oil is
expected to be extracted next month.
Experts say Londonís involvement in the future Somali oil industry could
prop up the UKís weakened economy, at a time it has resorted to
austerity measures to avoid a budget deficit.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government had
almost no other choice but to persuade Western companies to invest and
operate in Somalia by offering a portion of the country's plentiful
resources of oil and gas and large reserves of uranium.
Britain's efforts to develop Somalia's natural resources continue while
the Canadian company Africa Oil started oil exploration in Puntland in
January, the first drilling in Somalia for 21 years.
Chinese and US firms have reportedly also voiced interest about the
potential for oil as the country sounds safe enough to drill after two
decades of unrelenting war.