The deal was all but signed. A huge banner hung ceremoniously behind a table in a room lined with chairs, entitled “Signing Of Production Sharing Agreement,” referring to the crucial legislation that would start the resource sharing process. Just weeks before Joe Biden entered the White House, earning his place in part on a platform of dedicated climate action, a banner with the names of two U.S. companies — Liberty Petroleum and Coastline Exploration — and the date, January 4, were emblazoned next to a map of oil concessions.
And then — silence. Unconfirmed reports detailed a day-long postponement, followed by a last-minute cancellation. The two companies vanished from Mogadishu. Days later, a government minister confirmed no deal took place, but gave no further explanation about what happened.