Seychelles' preparation for any potential oil discovery stepped up as it gets accepted by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
Map of a recently surveyed area in the Seychelles EEZ as part of oil exploration activities by foreign companies (PetroSeychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - As foreign companies continue prospecting for oil and gas in Seychelles waters', the archipelago has been accepted as a candidate country by the Norway-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board.
EITI sets the global transparency standard for all minerals and Seychelles joins 45 other countries worldwide, that are required to extensively disclose revenues and measures to improve accountability in exploitation of oil, gas and minerals
Noting that EITI is the sole international authority on oil revenues, Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte said in a press conference Saturday, this means that within 18 months, Seychelles is required to publish its first EITI report and shall disclose all revenues received from oil companies.
The oil companies are also required to report all payment made to Seychelles.
Thereafter, the report shall be made annually and this shall be validated by EITI.
Laporte noted that validation will commence within 2.5 years of Seychelles becoming a Candidate.
Welcoming the EITI decision that was officially announced on Wednesday August 6, the minister said, "Seychelles is fully committed to ensuring the highest degree of transparency in the management of any potential oil discovery."
Noting that besides developing a revenue management mechanism, the EITI work plan also includes an assessment of the environmental impact of the industry, Laporte said this is being done by a committee chaired by himself and including civil society and private sector representatives.
He said that funds received so far have been for exploration rights solely.
After conducting several assessments in the 1990s, Seychelles decided to freeze all exploration efforts in order to review domestic legislation pertaining to the energy sector. In June last year, the island nation invited oil and gas exploration companies to bid for exploration blocks after the lapsing of a two-year moratorium.
Since the beginning of this year oil exploration in the Seychelles waters has been attracting more interest with several foreign companies currently involved in collecting seismic data of the rock formations for processing.
FTSE-listed company Ophir Energy that signed a farm-in deal with Australian oil company WHL in March under which Ophir stands to earn a 75 percent stake in WHL's offshore Seychelles assets, has just completed some 1500 km² of 3D seismic surveying of an exploration block known as Junon, 115 kilometres southeast of the main Seychelles island of Mahé.
The state-owned company responsible for regulating the hydrocarbon sector of the Indian Ocean archipelago, PetroSeychelles, and Japan’s Oil Gas Minerals Exploration Company (JOGMEC) ordered a two-week geochemical survey in the waters south-west of the main Seychelles island of Mahé in May.
Before that, in April, Russian seismic vessel ‘Akademik Fersman’ carried out a 2D seismic survey as part of the same JOGMEC-PetroSeychelles venture.
The Chief Executive of PetroSeychelles, Eddie Belle, also indicated recently that the country’s other exploration license holder, AFREN, could also be seeking to conduct an additional survey within the Seychelles’ EEZ before the end of the year.
Commenting on the oil exploration activities Laporte said, "This should give an idea of the size of the stocks of oil or gas if any and if extraction is profitable."