Mozambique government okays new oil law

The Mozambican government has approved a draft of a new petroleum law which will see communities get a slice of the country's oil revenues.

The spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Alberto Nkutumala, said the decision was taken at a session late on Tuesday.

"Of the revenues that result from oil operations in Mozambique, a part shall go to communities that are located in areas where operations take place," said Nkutumala.

It is not yet clear what the allocation to local communities would be.

The law, which has to be approved by parliament, will also set the legal framework for environmental protection, social and economic development of the areas of exploration.

"What the government wants is to adapt the law to changing times," Nkutumula said.

Under the draft legislation, petroleum companies are required to inform the government of any new discoveries within 24 hours.

A number of foreign petroleum companies, including the US-based Anadarko and Italy's ENI have made several discoveries of oil and gas reserves, positioning the country as a new natural resources frontier.

Some 150 trillion cubic feet of natural gas has already been discovered.

Despite it's confirmed energy reserves, the country is ranked by the UN as the world's fourth poorest, with most of the 23.4 million population living on one dollar or less a day.

It is expected that within five years, the new industry will account for 13 percent of the economy.

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