Seychelles says to start drilling for oil in 2012

* Two foreign companies to conduct drilling

* Seychelles seeking US advice to manage oil industry

By George Thande

VICTORIA, Dec 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Two foreign companies exploring
for oil in Seychelles have confirmed they would start drilling
in the Indian Ocean archipelago by the end of 2012, the finance
minister said on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Danny Faure told parliament a U.S.
government delegation had visited Seychelles recently to discuss
the possibility of technical assistance in areas of training,
regulation and management of its oil industry in view of its
potential and the complexity which it entails.

“The government hopes that the effort bears fruit and that
should Seychelles make any oil discovery, we will embark on
another phase of our development. We can however only plan for
this once there is clear evidence of a commercially viable
find,” Faure said in a budget speech. [ID:nLDE6B61L1]

“We now have a research company carrying out seismic
studies in our territorial waters. They will cover 18,000 km of
lines in this exercise,” Faure said.

“After this phase, other companies will be invited to do
further exploration and part of this information will also be
used by two companies already in Seychelles to determine the
location for drilling. Both companies have confirmed that they
will start drilling by the end of 2012.”

Faure did not name the companies to carry out the drilling.

Oil could become a leading source of income for the heavily
indebted Seychelles if recent seismic surveys suggesting large
hydrocarbon reserves are correct, the government has said.

The tropical archipelago has signed a production agreement
with East African Exploration (EAX) for a largely overlooked
area of seabed that the Dubai-based company thinks could hold
billions of barrels of oil.

EAX, a subsidiary of Black Marlin Energy Ltd., conducted a
two-year study of 43,000 square kms (17,000 square miles) and
said it had signs of a huge reserve within the offshore sector
of the Seychelles plateau.

Best known as a luxury destination for holidaymakers, the
country of just around 85,000 people expects strong economic
growth this year and next, showing a strong recovery from 2008
when foreign exchange reserves were nearly exhausted.

The Seychelles, a palm-fringed tourism paradise, is
considered one of Africa’s most prosperous and stable countries.

Africa has become a new frontier for oil explorers as
instability in the Middle East, fears of energy nationalism in
South America and Russia and high demand from Asian economies
drive prospectors off the beaten track in search of reserves.
(Writing by James Macharia; editing by Keiron Henderson)

Seychelles says to start drilling for oil in 2012