Spectrum defends role in Somalia oil block auction

Norway-based seismic data company Spectrum has denied its participation in the auction of offshore oil blocks at the Somalia Oil and Gas Conference held earlier this month.

According to a statement released by the company, the Somalia Offshore Round event was intended to allow interested parties to understand the offshore potential of the blocks from the seismic data, as well as the selection of blocks, the legal and fiscal terms, and the bidding conditions. Held in London on February 7, the conference was hosted by the Somali government in collaboration with Spectrum.

“The organization of the Offshore Round, the terms and any awards of blocks are managed and decided by the Somali government,” said the company in its statement.

The statement follows concerns raised by opposition parties and members of the public that the company was aiding the government in auctioning oil and gas blocks without an open and transparent licensing round. The blocks at stake are located in an area of the Indian Ocean that is currently at the center of a contentious diplomatic dispute between Somalia and Kenya.

Founded in 1986, Spectrum is a multi-client seismic services company that acquires, processes and interprets proprietary seismic data and subsequently licenses it to interested clients, who utilize the data to assess the hydrocarbon-producing potential of a certain geographical area.

According to the company, during the 2015-2016 year, Spectrum completed the acquisition and processing of 20,185 km of 2D long-offset seismic data under a cooperation agreement with the Federal Government of Somalia, in preparation for the offshore round. The data is then licensed to oil and gas companies by Spectrum on behalf of the government, with the government receiving a percentage of the revenues.