Despite DeSmog UK‘s repeated request for comment, only three of the 12 companies responded with a comment, and four declined to do so.
Both the Department for International Trade and the UK Export Finance – the two main government players in international oil and gas deals – failed to respond to a request for comment for this story.
A spokesperson for Soma Oil and Gas said: “Soma Oil & Gas was specifically founded and registered in the UK to facilitate full compliance with UK Anti-Bribery and Corruption Law and to access transparent UK financial and legal services since our business was to be conducted in the challenged country of Somalia.
This foresight for transparency & principled governance was to prove extremely beneficial when we responded to the SFO’s investigation which was based on unfounded allegations of corruption by a third party (UN Somalia & Eritrea Monitoring Group based in Nairobi, Kenya).
Soma Oil & Gas is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and we comply with its standards.
Soma Oil & Gas, as a UK company, conducts its business in Somalia under UK Tax regime and financial regulations.
Winter Sky Investment Limited has invested over £50 million in Soma oil and Gas and is the majority shareholder (51.5%).
The five changes of registered address are due to initial founding of the company in London (2 initial addresses) followed by 3 moves to different sub-let offices to lower costs in response to the low oil price.”
On the company’s use of tax havens, a spokesman for Ophir Energy said: “The use of different territories for registering businesses is for managing legal and administrative costs as efficiently possible. The place of incorporation does not necessarily correlate with the tax residency of the company.”
On climate change, he added: “Ophir’s discoveries and developments are gas projects. As the carbon transition progresses, a key step has been substituting cleaner, lower carbon fuels such as gas for high carbon fuels such as coal.”
Quoting the company’s position on climate change, he added: “A second area that is rightly attracting increasing attention is the role of upstream players in the climate change challenge. At Ophir, we recognise that we cannot put our head in the sand. We are not about to transform to a renewable energy company, but we do see a need for modified thinking and we have spent time in 2016 developing a position on this. This will evolve, but the topic is now on the Board’s agenda…
“Following the Paris Agreement at the end of 2015, we recognised that it was important to review our approach to climate change and we have therefore undertaken numerous activities, including submitting a Climate Change Questionnaire to CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) for the first time in 2016. We also continued to improve our systems to gather more data from across the Company and have begun the process of reporting a broader set of metrics, in line with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.”
A spokeswoman for Soco International said:
On its activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo: “There have been a substantial number of false and inaccurate allegations levelled against SOCO in the media. We maintain that SOCO has not supported any inappropriate activities, which was confirmed by an independent review of activities conducted by Clifford Chance law firm. SOCO’s operations inside the Democratic Republic of Congo ceased in 2014 and the company withdrew completely from Block V in 2015.
On its tax structure: “The Company openly discloses where its subsidiaries are and its payments to Governments as well as its tax strategy which can be accessed on its website.”
On climate change: “No comment.”
Premier Oil declined to comment.
Savannah Petroleum declined to comment.
African Petroleum declined to comment.
New Age African Global Energy declined to comment.
Cap Energy, Ensco, Serica Energy, Sterling Energy and Tullow Oil did not respond to DeSmog UK‘s request for comment.
Read DeSmog UK‘s Empire Oil series:
Part One – Black Gold’: London’s African Oil Hub