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Somalia exploration positions East Africa as the new oil and gas frontier

East Africa has been emerging as a major new frontier in the oil and gas industry for some time, and the latest news that Somalia has opened itself up to exploration is a further sign that the region is aware of the limitless potential that its oil and gas reserves present.

The world's oil and gas industry has been keeping increasingly close tabs on East Africa as a slew of new projects have sprung up, with gas reserves being developed off the coast of Mozambique, Tanzania exploring offshore, and further oil discoveries made in both Uganda and Kenya.

Such is the abundance of possibilities that analysts now view East Africa as having greater potential than almost anywhere else for exponential growth in the coming years, with both independent and larger international oil companies keen to exploit the available resources.

Untapped potential

After projects in Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya all proved that there are lucrative gas resources, Somalia is confident that it can follow in their footsteps and even exceed the value of its neighbouring countries' contracts, such is its vastness.

One major stumbling block in the region and Somalia in particular has been uncertainty over political stability and other factors, but the country is keen to shed this image and has repeatedly stated that issues such as piracy are being curbed.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the likes of like Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and other gas giants were all on the cusp of exploring the area, but the outbreak of civil war in 1991 put paid to that; now, however, they are being encouraged to return to the market.

Planning for the future

Somalia is helping to bolster confidence by greenlighting a number of new projects to make access and investment in the oil and gas sector easier, including an expansion into the Mogadishu port to enable the transfer of rigs and the building of an entirely new port to handle other equipment needed by international oil companies.

Now, London-based Soma Oil and Gas has also completed an onshore and offshore seismic survey and says it is encouraged by the results, details of which are expected to be published by the end of the year and could open the floodgates for more interest and subsequent investment.

According to the Somalia government and Petroleum Ministry, the country is confident it will be producing oil within a few short years, which will complement the development of oil and gas resources elsewhere in the region, including in Uganda and Kenya, and further position East Africa as the new frontier of the global oil and gas industry.


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