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Vol 47 No 21

Published 20th October 2006

Equatorial Guinea

No man an island

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan wanted to resolve a 35-year old territorial dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon before his tenure ends. That looks doubtful. The minuscule, uninhabited islands of Mbanié, Cocotiers and Conga are probably rich in oil and gas, and their territorial waters towards São Tomé e Príncipe contain richer known reserves. The conflict lay dormant in the 1970s and restarted when President Omar Bongo Ondimba's son, Ali Ben Bongo, visited the islands in February 2003. Gabon has granted exploration rights in two areas of the disputed territory: Royal Dutch Shell through its Igoumou license and Anadarko in Agali. Neither company will explore until legal title is settled. Both governments have wavered over creating a joint exploitation zone for the islands in Corsico Bay.

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