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Morocco Strikes Black Gold!

A country with no oil of its own, Morocco has discovered substantial crude and gas deposits

Will Morocco join the club of oil-producing countries?

Oil and gas discovered in Morocco for the first time? Yes, as King Mohammed VI confirmed in a speech to the nation on Sunday August 20th, adding that the find ``was good-quality and abundant.''.

Later on, the Moroccan News Agency MAP confirmed that "A large field had been discovered near Morocco's eastern border, near Talsint, about 100 Kms (60 miles) from the border with Algeria. In a press release issued by the Royal Office, The Sovereign insisted on the need to double efforts in matters of drilling and exploiting promising resources in this vital substance that Morocco harbors. Announcing the event, the Sovereign said that "the discovery will turn Morocco from a country importing all its oil needs, to a country whose soil harbors abundant quantities of this vital substance."

An effective strategy has already been put into place as for the use of the find. These new natural resources should be, as the King defined ``used rationally, to ensure the take off of the national economy and social development.'' He stressed the need to make of oil and gas an engine to ensure economic take off and social development and "not a goal per se" or a wealth that incites to laziness and consumption. He also renewed determination to grant keen interest to consolidating and modernizing Morocco's economic fabric to promote the rural world and agriculture, which is, he said, a source of income for half of the Moroccan people.

In a working session of chaired by the King on the policy to adopt, following the discovery, the Sovereign gave instructions to the Government regarding oil and hydrocarbon drilling in general, and its exploitation in particular. "This, however, does not mean that Morocco will become a nation relying mainly on its oil richness" he added. The money that was once used to finance Morocco's oil imports will be earmarked to spur investments in the promotion of human resources, the sovereign added. "The oil wealth will never be an alternative to our agricultural wealth. It will rather be a tool to enrich agriculture and developing agricultural scientific research," the King said.

Among other measured taken by King Mohammed VI on the occasion, the Sovereign appointed Ms. Amina Benkhadra, Director General of ONAREP (Office National de Recherches et d'Exploitation Petrolieres). It was reported that she will keep her post of Director General of BRPM (Bureau des Recherches et des Participations Minieres.

Morocco has had no important oil or natural gas reserves, importing virtually all its fuel. Exploration for oil dated back to 1920 during the French occupation but until now no positive results were attained. Morocco's oil bill is estimated at 500 to 800 million dollars annually.

Morocco had granted last April -- under an accord concluded between Moroccan ONAREP (Office National de Recherches et d'exploitation petrolieres) and the US Loan Star Energy-- three licenses to the US Skidmore firm to carry out drilling operations over an area of 6,000 square km. Some $ 50 million were earmarked to the drilling operations. Moroccan energy and mining minister, Youssef Tahiri, had announced that the sum can be multiplied by 10 in the event of positive results. Last spring, some independent Moroccan media speculated that the underground store could contain up to 20 billion barrels of oil. But Moroccan Energy Minister Youssef Tahiri called the reports at that time "fantastic and premature,'' saying only that there were encouraging signs of oil reserves.

After the new find, one question remains: In the near future, will Morocco join the club of oil-producing countries? May be there will be a positive answer in the days to come that may go along with the recent positive find of oil and gas resources in the country.

Morocco Today Special Reports Desk Editor





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