Somaliland: Do We Really have Oil Deposits


So oil concessions

Somalilandsun -With Somaliland yet to be explored in a comprehensive and accurate manner, it managed to be listed among possible countries to contain economical quantities of oil and gas, and the evidences that strongly supports the presence of petroleum systems in the country can’t be overlooked, and its worth mentioning that in recent times there have been a sentence popularized and used widely which is  “East Africa is the new Middle East” which suggests that this region has a bright future, and it will witness an economic boom with the help of oil or so-called black gold.

The signs that indicate the possibility of oil presence in the region are considered strong and convincing due to their nature and diversity, and the comparison between the oil-producing basins of Yemen and Somaliland basins, along with the study of the great aspects of similarities between them, and the study of the sedimentary sequences which each consist of; all these together are considered among the major indicators of the existence of oil in Somaliland.

as the plate tectonics theory suggests that the Arabian plate and Somalian plate were one; before they were separated at the opening of the Gulf of Aden, which is a young and narrow oceanic basin formed in Oligo-Miocene time between the rifting margins of the Arabian and Somalian plates. and when the two plates are re-constructed they show clearly that the basins of southern Yemen are an extension of Somaliland basins, this information contributed to the study and understanding of  the petroleum systems of the country and facilitated the exploration operations currently taking place in the country. For example, the Balhaf and Sab’atayn Basins appear to be a continuation of the 
Berbera-Bulahar sub-basins; the Erigavo High is the continuation of the Mukalla High; and the Raguda and Bandar Harshau sub-basins are conjugates of the Say’un-Masilah Basins.

“In Yemen, significant accumulations of hydrocarbons have been found in the Jurassic Sab’atayn and Say’un-Masilah grabens (As-Saruri et al., 2010; Bosence, 1997). The main source rock is the Upper Jurassic Madbi shale (Hakimi et al., 2010), equivalent to the Gahodleh shale, with average TOC 
of 1.48%, which generates oil at fields including Alif, Ayadh and Masilah (Alaug et al., 2012; Bosence, 1997). The main reservoir rocks are Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous sandstones (possibly equivalent to the Jesomma sandstone), as well as Proterozoic fractured basement (As-Saruri et al., 2010; Bott et al., 1992).”  (Ali, M.Y., 2015.  Petroleum geology and hydrocarbon 
Potential of the guban basin, northern Somaliland. Journal of Petroleum Geology, Vol. 38(4), pp 433-458.).

also unequivocal evidence that shows the presence of oil accumulations in the region is oil shows or oil seeps on the surface, for example, at Dagah Shabel in the Guban basin southeast of Berbera, although it is a clear indication, but at the same time it does not mean that there is an economic quantities or it reached the required maturity, however, it calls for extensive and detailed explorations and other studies before it could help in understanding the quantities and the level of maturation, and in return affect the decision of whether extracting it or not .

What could draws us furthermore towards believing in the existence of oil and gas accumulations in Somaliland, is the presence of active petroleum systems in most of the country’s basins, although the identification of it’s basic elements such as: source rock, reservoir rock, seals and traps aren’t completely made yet due to limited applications of modern seismic reflection surveying in the country, and maybe with the availability of the results of seismic surveys and geochemical analysis of rock samples of the sedimentary sequences may lead to a significant discovery in Somaliland.

The potential source rock of the existing petroleum systems in the country could be illustrated in three timed sections:-
Jurassic:- it goes along the coast at the north of the country as an outcrops. It includes the Gahodleh and Daghani shales.
Cretaceous:- shales of Yesomma formation.
Eocene-Oligocene:- Auradu marlstones formation. although the succession is immature.

At the end we can say that Somaliland have a great hydrocarbon potential, and it is a high profile exploration region, so it must be the government’s priority to allocate a specific governmental body that carries out the exploration duties, and prepares studies and a national hydrocarbon archive, in order to attract international companies to invest and explore hydrocarbons, also this body would perform supervision tasks on these companies work, so that we can  take advantage of these resources as much as possible, and achieve the goals and hopes of this country and this people, who are hoping for a better tomorrow; and a future that guarantees them prosperity and progress.

Salaam Alaykum !!!

Musatafe OsmanMustafe Osman 
Department of Geology | International University of Africa | Khartoum – Sudan
Hargeisa – Somaliland
+252 63 4072179 | +252 65 9747024