This working paper explores the relationship between oil exploration and conflict across the Somali inhabited territories of Somaliland, Puntland, south-central Somalia, and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. The paper provides an overview of oil concessions within these territories, an analysis of contemporary conflict dynamics related to these concessions, and a discussion of the implications for the future political development of the region. The paper draws on parts of the resource curse literature with a particular focus on contributions which concentrate on low- and middle-income countries where institutional weakness and corruption often predate oil discoveries, hence where oil is not necessarily the cause of but must be understood as exacerbating already existing institutional weaknesses and possible conflict dynamics. Supporting these findings the main argument put forward in the present paper is that the mere belief in the existence of oil and the related ongoing oil exploration triggers a number of the negative trajectories associated with the resource curse such as corruption, diversion of funds and violent conflict. Each of the conflict locations analysed have idiosyncratic conflict dynamics but common to them all is that the myriad different and contradictory modes of governance and overlapping territorial claims have been shown to further complicate and intensify the negative dynamics associated with oil exploration. This is evident even without any commercial discoveries and with the currently low oil prices. The fact that oil in commercial quantities is yet to be discovered highlights the policy relevance of the paper, as several of the negative oil-related trajectories presented for the Somali inhabited territories are still possible to mitigate or maybe even prevent. In this perspective the paper concludes with policy considerations.