September 3, 2008

Two Companies Interested in Looking for Oil in Maldives

Text of report by Maldives privately-owned newspaper Haveeru Daily website on 3 September

Two foreign companies have expressed interest in looking for oil in Maldives, the Economic Development Ministry has said. The deputy minister of the Economic Development Ministry, Abdull Solih, said that the first company that had expressed interest in surveying for oil in Maldives had done so early this year. The second company had done so last June. However, the deputy minister did not reveal the names of the two companies.

"One of the companies is a very well-known company in the world," he said. "The other company is a consortium of well-known companies. I can't reveal their names without their consent."

Solih said that both companies were going to finance the research on their own and would share the results with the government.

"The survey is to be done in different phases," Solih said. "It will take around one and a half years."

Solih also said that even if the presence of oil was confirmed the two companies would most likely not be assigned the task of drilling for oil.

"The government will open an international auction to look for interested companies," he said. "Another one and a half years will probably be taken to find an interested party. In total it will take around seven years for drilling to begin."

Solih said that the government needed to do several things before drilling for oil commenced in the country.

"Since Maldives relies very much on tourism we have to make sure that there are no environmental side effects from drilling for oil and we also have to prepare an MOU," Solih said.

Solih also said that during 1970s also the government had surveyed the country looking for oil. Shell Company from Holland had also drilled many areas of Ari Atoll looking for oil in 1991.

"No trace of oil was found in Maldives back then," Solih said. "However, since oil had been discovered in some areas of India and Sri Lanka it is possible that oil could be found in Maldives too."

Originally published by Haveeru Daily website, Male, in English 3 Sep 08.

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