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Threatening the Seychelles’ tourism industry: Commercial oil production

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Written by Alain St.Ange

Seychelles could fast-track permission to hunt for oil in the waters of its archipelago of tropical islands within weeks, paving the way for drilling by the end of the decade.

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PetroSeychelles, a state-backed oil company, said its negotiations with oil minnow Sub Sahara Resources (SSR) should conclude shortly, while the planning process could complete within the next two years.

Seychelles could fast-track permission to hunt for oil in the waters of its archipelago of tropical islands within weeks, paving the way for drilling by the end of the decade.

Chief executive Patrick Joseph said: “If there are no big issues – which I don’t think there will be – we should complete negotiations within one month.”

Mr Joseph said the islands could host a “world-class” oil discovery based on its early test drilling. The region has only undertaken four early test wells, of which three have suggested “excellent” hydrocarbon reserves just a hundred yards below sea level.

It is too soon to say exactly how lucrative the reserves might be, but at shallow water depths it is likely to be a low-cost option for hopeful oil producers, he said.

PetroSeychelles began formal negotiations with SSR less than a fortnight ago in a bid to bring an end to a difficult few years for the group, which has already lost a string of potential partners.

The tropical island basin was a key focus of failed oil company Afren before it crashed out of the London stock exchange after plunging into administration in 2015.

Ophir Energy and its partner WHL Energy, an Australian firm, both pulled out of the hunt for oil after internal wrangling between the pair caused the deal to collapse. Japan’s state oil and minerals group, known as Jogmec, is also understood to have backed away due to the lower-than-expected oil price.

PetroSeychelles believes that SSR could fast-track its seismic research work by building on the advances made by previous, unsuccessful partnerships. Privately held SSR is based in Australia.

However environmental protection for the islands’ marine biodiversity could still scupper plans for the Commonwealth nation’s first commercial oil production, which campaigners fear could harm its vital tourism industry.

PetroSeychelles is in talks with the government about how it plans to manage its conservation areas, but says it is not completely clear how environmental management plans will evolve in the years ahead, which could pose a major challenge to investors.

“The indication that we have been given so far is that the management plans will be the kinds of plans that we already have in place. But we need to see that written,” Mr Joseph said.

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About the author

Alain St.Ange

Alain St Ange has been working in the tourism business since 2009. He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel.

He was appointed as the Director of Marketing for Seychelles by President and Minister of Tourism James Michel. After one year of

After one year of service, he was promoted to the position of CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board.

In 2012 the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands regional Organization was formed and St Ange was appointed as the first president of the organization.

In a 2012 cabinet re-shuffle, St Ange was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture which he resigned on 28 December 2016 in order to pursue a candidacy as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation.

At the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu in China, a person who was being sought after for the “Speakers Circuit” for tourism and sustainable development was Alain St.Ange.

St.Ange is the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine who left office in December last year to run for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO. When his candidature or document of endorsement was withdrawn by his country just a day before the elections in Madrid, Alain St.Ange showed his greatness as a speaker when he addressed the UNWTO gathering with grace, passion, and style.

His moving speech was recorded as the one on the best marking speeches at this UN international body.

African countries often remember his Uganda address for the East Africa Tourism Platform when he was a guest of honor.

As former Tourism Minister, St.Ange was a regular and popular speaker and was often seen addressing forums and conferences on behalf of his country. His ability to speak ‘off the cuff’ was always seen as a rare ability. He often said he speaks from the heart.

In Seychelles he is remembered for a marking address at the official opening of the island’s Carnaval International de Victoria when he reiterated the words of John Lennon famous song… ” you may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. One day you will all join us and the world will be better as one”. The world press contingent gathered in Seychelles on the day ran with the words by St.Ange which made headlines everywhere.

St.Ange delivered the keynote address for the “Tourism & Business Conference in Canada”

Seychelles is a good example for sustainable tourism. This is therefore not surprising to see Alain St.Ange being sought after as a speaker on the international circuit.

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