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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

Report predicts rise in African maritime boundary disputes

(3 December 2014)

A report co-authored by Robert van de Poll, of the Dutch survey company Fugro N.V., and David Bishopp, Galp Energy’s Head of Strategic Business Development, predicts a rise in African maritime boundary disputes. The report reviewed the Law of the Sea status of African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and its Extended Continental Shelf (ECS), using declassified military information, satellite images, and estimates of oil and gas reserves.

Africa is a “hotspot,” van de Poll concluded, because maritime boundary agreements have not kept up with the pace of oil exploration in the region. Of the 100 maritime boundaries the report identified, only 32 are resolved, leaving 68 unresolved or contested. Recent disputes involving Kenya and Somalia as well as Ghana and Ivory Coast have been sent to arbitration.

NJ Ayuk, representative of global law firm Centurion LLP, agreed that in Africa, “You are a seeing a spike in border issues and border resolutions which never existed before.” Resolution of maritime boundaries will improve development prospects for significant oil and gas reserves in the region. Van de Poll and Bishopp concluded that 95 billion barrels of oil had been discovered off the African coastline, with potential for an additional 70-80 billion barrels if companies explore beyond the EEZ.


Spike seen in African offshore disputes, oil companies watching, 6 November 2014, by Wendell Roelf, Reuters,

CEPMLP Honorary Lecturer Presents at African Oil & Gas Conference, 25 November 2014, Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee,