Seychelles depends on imported petroleum to meet its domestic power requirements. Following the increase in oil prices in 1990, fuel accounted for nearly 8.6 percent of the nation's import bill, exclusive of reexports. The possibility of commercially exploitable offshore oil led to the granting of exploration rights in 1977 to a consortium headed by Amoco Oil Company. Amoco later bought out its partners and acquired additional exploration rights but ceased drilling in 1986 when all of its test wells proved dry.
The government embarked on a new program to interest oil companies in exploration in 1985 with technical assistance from Norway in preparing feasibility studies. In 1987 the British Enterprise Oil Company and the United States Texaco Corporation, obtained rights for areas south and west of Mahé. After completing promising seismic studies, Enterprise announced plans to begin drilling in 1995. The Seychelles government retains rights to participate in joint development of the concession if commercial quantities of oil are found. In August 1990, Ultramar Canada, Inc. stated that it had an agreement to search 10,200 square kilometers of seabed northeast of Mahé.
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