A research vessel with 25 scientists on board has arrived in the Maldives to conduct oil and gas exploration research.
The German research vessel ‘Sonne‘ which came to the Maldives for different research purposes has agreed to do the oil exploration research for free, the government has said.
The scientists are expected to begin research within two days.
Speaking to media after his visit to the vessel today, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee said the information obtained will be shared with the Maldives in the first quarter of 2015, adding that it would not be shared with any third party.
A local expert and a member of the Maldives National Defence Force will be present with the team during the survey, he said.
According to Dr Shainee it will be carried out in one of the three main areas in the country with properties indicating the presence of oil and gas – located 100 miles east of the region between Laamu and Thaa atoll.
The three dimensional seismic survey, carried out by sending sonic waves into the sea, will identify the presence of oil and gas in the region without any drilling, the minister said. It will be followed by further exploration involving drilling to confirm any positive findings, he explained.
The survey team’s own research will be about the changes in Maldives’ seas due to global warming, Haveeru has reported.
Speaking to the newspaper, the lead researcher from the University of Hamburg said a similar survey was done by the same vessel in 2007, but this new, more detailed one will complement it.
The Maldives National Oil Company Ltd (MNOC), a subsidiary of the State Trading Organization (STO), said in February that they will soon begin advertising the country as a destination for oil exploration.
“We have contacted a Norwegian company and a German company to help us better understand the findings of the study. Based on this report, we’re hopeful of advertising the Maldives as a new destination of oil exploration,” said MNOC Managing Director Ahmed Muneez at the time.
French oil company Elf Aquitaine explored for oil and gas between 1968 and 1978, drilling three different sites. According to the MNOC, it was found at the time that the quantity available from the drilled site was insignificant and therefore uneconomical for production.
In 1991, Royal Dutch Shell initiated a second attempt at drilling an exploration well in the inner sea of the Ari Atoll.
Local environmental NGO Blue Peace has said oil drilling in the Maldives could cause environmental issues depending on the location of drilling , arguing that it “cannot coexist” with the country’s dominant tourism industry.