The Conoco – Somalia Declassification Project # 3

A Temporary Withdrawal – Security Concerns

1. “Update of Threat Assessment – Somalia.” Cable from US Embassy in Mogadishu to State Department Headquarters. 7 September 1989. Cable Number: Mogadishu 09512. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2006-01-288) to Keith Yearman. “Somalia remains in a medium to high threat category with a potential for becoming critical with little or no warning…” Conoco “has not reported any incidents.”

2. “[Excised] Security in Northern Somalia.” Cable from State Department Headquarters to US Embassy in Mogadishu. 19 July 1990. Cable Number: State 236961. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2006-01-288) to Keith Yearman. “Amoco, Conoco, Phillips, and Pecten have all contacted us recently about the security situation. Amoco said it may take out dependents permanently and expats temporarily until the drill site in Brava is ready. The expats will probably return if, as Amoco expects, the Somali government agrees to let them fly directly between Brava and Kenya.”

3. “Oil Companies are Worried.” Cable from State Department Headquarters to US Embassy in Mogadishu. 30 July 1990. Cable Number: State 249168. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-05-183) to Keith Yearman. Conoco told representatives of State’s African/Near Eastern Affairs Bureau that they were “suspending operations in Somalia as of today (7/27) because of deteriorating security in Mogadishu and upcountry…The Somali government gave Conoco a letter releasing Conoco of obligations to continue exploration at this time…Amoco tells us American oil companies will meet in Houston the middle of next week to discuss the situation in Somalia.”

4. “Conoco Shutting Down.” Cable from US Embassy in Mogadishu to State Department Headquarters. 1 August 1990. Cable Number: Mogadishu 06900. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-05-183) to Keith Yearman. In this heavily-excised cable, Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph J. Borich reports on Conoco’s suspension of operations “following the apparent assassination of their security detachment commander and the killing of a truck driver.” Of possible importance, note the distribution list of this cable – it went to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Conoco and State – A Cozy Relationship

1. “Private Courier Service.” Cable from US Embassy in Mogadishu to State Department Headquarters. 10 December 1989. Cable Number: Mogadishu 13536. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2006-01-288) to Keith Yearman. In this cable, Ambassador Frank Crigler describes how dependents of State Department personnel provided courier services for Amoco, Chevron and Conoco. An anonymous complaint brought an investigation by the Inspector General, which “found no wrongdoing.”

2. “Conoco on How to Pay Our Employees.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 21 May 1991. Cable Number: Nairobi 12692. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-05-183) to Keith Yearman. With the embassy in Somalia closed, the State Department was concerned with paying its Foreign Service Nationals in Somalia. A consultation was held with Conoco (apparently Marchand), in which he advised State on how to proceed – from setting up accounts with the Central Bank to the amount of time State Department personnel should expect to spend. Of importance in this cable – “Two [US government] employees would travel to Mogadishu several days after Conoco re-occupies its offices on June 4..USG employees would be welcome to stay with Conoco and would be protected throughout their stay by Conoco’s private guard service…USG employees could travel to Mogadishu either on the [Red Cross] aircraft…or by the Conoco aircraft…Conoco would probably not charge us for taking one of its regular flights…A final note: In addition to being helpful to us in every other way possible, Conoco has been giving rice, spaghetti, and powdered milk to out FSN’s when they come to the Conoco office. Conoco refuses to accept payment from us for this service.” [Note: See cables from May 20, 1992 and June 3, 1992 for further details on paying State Department’s Somali employees].

3. “Mogadishu Security Assessment.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 9 October 1991. Cable Number: Nairobi 24780. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-05-183) to Keith Yearman. “Embassy is in daily contact with Conoco (Somalia), Ltd…During four visits by [US government] officials to Mogadishu over the past several months, Conoco (Somalia), Ltd. has provided the following security: USG officials are met at the airport by armed guards and escorted via convoy to the Conoco residence. This residence lies in the center of a blocked-off, two square-block security zone…This zone is controlled by Conoco and is heavily fortified. USG officials move about Mogadishu as little as necessary. When they do, they are provided with armed guards. USG officials sleep and take their meals at the Conoco compound. When they leave Mogadishu, they are again escorted to the airport via convoy under armed guard. The aircraft, leased from ‘Rent-A-Plane,’ is in constant contact with the Conoco compound while in flight, which further facilitates security during take-offs and landings and allows last-minute changes in plan, if necessary.”

4. “Conoco Phasing Out Mogadishu Office, Will Work From Garoe.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 18 February 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 03944. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Conoco “has ceased staffing its Mogadishu office with expatriates, according to Raymond Marchand, president of Conoco (Somalia)…Conoco, the only U.S. firm that kept its Mogadishu office open during the turbulent past year, finally despaired of stability and government returning to the capital anytime soon…All USG employees travelling to Mogadishu in the past year have stayed with and been protected by Conoco.” This is was also released as Document R01, from the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs.

5. “Request for Travel to Mogadishu to Pay FSN Employees.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 20 May 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 11635. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Discusses efforts of State Department to pay Somali nationals who were employed by the US government. The political officer, John Fox, “would travel into Mogadishu aboard either a Conoco aircraft or a relief flight. He would stay at the well-guarded compound of Conoco (Somalia), Ltd.” See “Approval on Fox Travel to Mogadishu to Pay FSNs” (3 June 1992) for response.

6. “Approval on Fox Travel to Mogadishu to Pay FSNs.” Cable from State Department Headquarters to US Embassy in Nairobi. 3 June 1992. Cable Number: State 175303. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Washington approves Fox’s travel to Mogadishu for June 8-11, 1992. See “Request for Travel to Mogadishu to Pay FSN Employees” (20 May 1992) for initial request.

7. “Former FSNs Paid in Mogadishu.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 12 June 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 13356. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Discusses Fox’s trip to Mogadishu, describes Osman Atto at being “most helpful.” See London 00133 ( “TFS001: More on Somali Perceptions vs. the Facts of Operation Restore Hope,” 5 January 1993) for more on Atto.

8. “Somalia Security Assessment.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 2 October 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 22214. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Discusses debriefing of Fox conducted 28 September. Fox “observed no anti-American sentiment…U.S. personnel have the ability to communicta (sic) via satelite telephones provided by Conoco…There is some thought being given in the department to opening an office in Mogadishu for the coordination of U.S. relief efforts. The office would probably be leased from Conoco.”

9. “Opening of U.S. Liaison Office in Somalia.” Cable from U.S. Embassy in Nairobi (Regional Information Management Center) to State Department Headquarters. 4 December 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 26851. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Announces creation of a U.S. liaison office in Mogadishu, and that a “temporary office may be established at the Conoco compound if possible.” [The US leased the Conoco compound, a villa, and had interest in an apartment complex known as K-7.]

10. “Somalia: Deployment Instructions for Ambassador Oakley.” Cable from State Department Headquarters. 8 December 1992. Cable Number: State 390758. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. Copy of cable originally sent 4 December 1992 to US Embassy, Addis Ababa. Gives orders to Robert Oakley to “proceed immediately to Mogadishu to establish yourself as the chief United States government representative in Somalia. Your establishment will be called the United States Liaison Office.” Also note, “Department is working with Conoco. Rene Marchand, to secure their compound for your use. Conoco is willing but there may be some difficulties in actually getting set up right way.” This cable was forwarded to U.S. Central Command Headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.

11. “Financial Support for Mogadishu – Update No. 1.” Cable from State Department Headquarters to U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. 11 December 1992. Cable Number: State 399037. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman. “Our initial thought is to establish a contract with Conoco at some fixed amount per person for lodging and food.”

12. “FBO Funding for Mogadishu – 2562.” Cable from US Embassy in Nairobi to State Department Headquarters. 24 December 1992. Cable Number: Nairobi 28472. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2004-04-554) to Keith Yearman.“Administrative officer in Mogadishu has neotiated a lease for the Conoco compound for six months at dols 41,260.” A villa was also leased for $36,000.

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