Somalia signs oil exploration deal with UK firm

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s government has signed an oil and gas exploration deal with a newly formed British company, the first such agreement by a central government in Somalia following decades of conflict.

The deal with Soma Oil and Gas allows the company to conduct seismic surveys in Somalia’s territorial waters and in limited onshore regions.

The company’s chief executive, Robert Sheppard, said Tuesday that Somalia remains significantly underexplored in the oil and gas sector despite recent discoveries across East Africa. Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are among nations with recent discoveries.

Somalia’s Mogadishu-based government said it expects the deal will attract new development “in an area of immense economic potential” for the nation.

Somali and African Union troops ousted Islamic fighters from Mogadishu in 2011. Al-Shabab militants still control much of southern Somalia.

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