The Petroleum Act, that dates back to the year 1970, will be replaced by a new and more appropriate regulatory regime, the Offshore Petroleum Bill, which will be presented at the National Assembly, today, by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
The Bill provides for the conduct of petroleum activities in the seabed and subsoil areas of the maritime zones of Mauritius, such as the prospecting, exploration, retention and production of petroleum. It paves the way for the creation of a regulatory body to regulate, monitor, oversee and facilitate petroleum activities, namely the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration.
Among its functions, the Department, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, shall, on behalf of the Government, negotiate petroleum agreements with a potential
exploration licensee, retention licensee or production licensee so as to secure the most favourable conditions for the Government.
Also, the Department shall develop policies to enhance the conduct of petroleum activities, as well as standards and guidelines, including an Environmental Code of Practice and a Safety Code of Practice. It should formulate strategies and policies to minimise and manage the impacts of petroleum activities in the marine environment.
Under the new Bill, there shall be four titles such as the prospecting permit, the exploration licence, the retention licence, and the production licence, for which applications should be made to the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration.
Hence, no person shall engage in petroleum activities in the maritime zones unless he/she is the holder of a title and no title shall be granted except with the approval of the Prime Minister. The Bill details the conditions for application and grant of the titles, and the responsibilities of the title holder too.
Moreover, the Bill makes provision for all sovereign rights to petroleum contained in the seabed and subsoil areas of the maritime zones shall vest, and shall always be deemed to have been vested, in the State of Mauritius.