* E. Africa a new frontirer in oil, gas exploration
* Revenue to be shared equally by Indian Ocean island
By George Obulutsa
NAIROBI, Aug 19 Seychelles and Mauritius plan to
jointly explore for petroleum in an area in the Indian Ocean
that they both own.
East Africa has become a focal point for exploration after
oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya and natural gas deposits in
Tanzania and Mozambique.
"An Authority will be established to deal with the Licensing
and to oversee the activities in the Joint management Area. All
revenues will be split 50:50," Eddy Belle, chief executive
officer of Seychelles upstream regulator PetroSeychelles said in
an emailed response to questions from Reuters.
"Mauritius and Seychelles are still working on the legal
framework that will dictate oil exploration and exploitation in
the Joint Management Area (JMA). No deadline has been set for
the opening of the area."
The two island nations received permission in 2012 from the
United Nations for an extended continental shelf off their
respective coasts, estimated to measure 396,000 square km. The
granting of the joint exploration rights was meant to forestall
any future maritime territorial disputes.
In June, Seychelles invited oil and gas companies to bid for
exploration blocks, bringing to an end a two-year moratorium,
and introducing new rules for bidders after completing a review
of laws regulating the sector.
So far, Afren Plc and Australia's WHL Energy
are the only companies holding exploration licences in
Seychelles, an archipelago of islands northeast of Madagascar.
PetroSeychelles said in early August it had already received
two new applications under the newly introduced Open File
Licensing Initiative, which were undergoing due diligence before
proceeding to the next stage of evaluation.