MediaToday
News | Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Foreign Ministry mum on possible Libyan drilling in Maltese waters

David Darmanin

The Foreign Ministry is concealing details to the press on the case of a chart published by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EGEA) indicating an oil-drilling concession by the Libyan government within Maltese waters.
The same chart was also published by Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in his weekly column last Saturday, wherein he claims that “Libyan authorities might be turning a blind eye to the organised illegal trafficking of humans for a very specific reason: oil.”
The chart indicates that Sirte – an oil-drilling company owned by the Libyan government – has been awarded a concession to conduct a drilling exercise in the Medina Bank.
When in the 1980s an Italian sub-contractor for the Maltese government was caught drilling for oil in the same area by the Libyan government, gunboats were sent to intimidate the company from pursuing the exercise. Although the Italian company had after this incident abandoned the project, in 1985 the International Courts of Justice ruled in favour of Malta that the area in question – the Medina Bank – lies within the Maltese territorial boundary. This precedent forbade the drilling for oil in the area to any other country except Malta.
The Foreign Ministry however said it had “no information whatsoever that would suggest that Sirte Oil or any other company have started drilling on the Medina Bank or in any area claimed by Malta.”
Asked whether it had been informed of oil drilling concessions, the spokesperson was vague in his reply. Without denying the possibility of such concession, the spokesperson said “there have been no developments on the issue so far”.
Asked what he makes out of Pullicino Orlando’s claim, the Ministry spokesperson said he has no comment to make in the regard.
Otherwise, the ministry official never sent replies to our questions on what government intends doing if such information carried in the EGEA journal as well as in the local media, is verified.

ddarmanin@mediatoday.com.mt

 

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22 April 2009
ISSUE NO. 579

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