Kenya could forfeit three of its 20 oil blocks in the Indian Ocean to Somalia if it loses a maritime territorial dispute brought against it.
Tomorrow, Kenya begins an epic fight at the international justice city of The Hague, Netherlands, to fight claims of grabbing part of Somali’s maritime territory where oil blocks L-21, L-23 and L-24 are located.
This time round, the duel will be located at the historic Peace Palace where the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is hearing the case, is located. The building is located a few miles away from the International Criminal Court.
Somalia’s Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion minister Abdirahman Dualeh filed the dispute on August 28, 2014 on behalf of the Somali government. Lawyers Paul Reichler of Foley Hoag LLP, New York and Prof Allain Pellet, a Frenchman, are representing Somalia.
Attorney General Githu Muigai is leading the team of Kenya’s defence which also includes British lawyer Karim Khan who represented Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC.
“Attorney General Githu Muigai is today leading the Kenyan delegation to the ICJ in The Hague to present Kenya’s submissions to the court on the Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia vs. Kenya) Case,” a statement from the AG’s office issued yesterday said.
Besides the pair, Kenya has hired a constellation of legal minds – Prof Payam Akhavan (American), Prof Vaughan Lowe QC (British), Prof Alan Boyle (British), Prof Mathias Forteau (French) and Ms Amy Sanders (British).
The point of disagreement between Kenya and Somalia is the nature of the line of the maritime boundary. While Somali insists on a median line from Kenya/Somali land boundary terminus, Kenya insists on a straight line.
Somali’s equidistant line carves out a triangle of the maritime area currently occupied by Kenya and where the three blocks are located.
Court documents filed by Dualeh say the three blocks of oil on the triangle were awarded to Italian company Eni SpA in 2012 by the Kenyan government.
According to information posted on the court’s website, the hearings, which end on Friday, will solely deal with the preliminary objections raised by Kenya to the substantive case. In its case, Somalia wants the court to determine the boundary dividing all the maritime area between Kenya and Somalia in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
It wanted the court to determine the precise geographical co-ordinates of the boundary in the Indian Ocean.