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The Comoros Islands, located in the Indian Ocean between the Mozambique coastline and Madagascar, could be among the new "elephant" oil and gas discoveries for Africa

Speaking at this week's Africa E&P Summit in London, Alexander Mollinger, chief operating officer, Discover Exploration, said that the combination of the islands' location in the Mozambique Channel and 16,000sq km of 2D seismic data for a drill-ready field with up to 10.5bn boe of gas could transform the country's economy. As well as the strong gas case, the data shows a potential oil find of 7bn barrels and 1.1 tcf of associated gas. Made up of three islands and with a population of just 800,000, a major gas discovery and subsequent monetisation have the potential to dramatically increase the Comoros Islands' GDP from US$660mn.

Mr Mollinger explained that before the construction of the Suez Canal, the Mozambique Channel was a busy shipping route. For many voyages, using the Suez Canal rather than the Mozambique Channel shortened routes by thousands of miles. However, geopolitical changes and conflicts are making the Mozambique Channel an attractive shipping route again, avoiding chokepoints in the Middle East, such as Yemeni and Iranian waters, and making it suitable for shipping East African gas to the Asian markets.

As well as encouraging seismic data results, Mr Mollinger said the Comoros Islands government was offering "excellent fiscal terms" with a break-even oil price of just US$35 a barrel required. In regard to the gas, the company is looking to LNG development on a sparsely populated part of one of the islands so small-scale projects can be completed quickly.

"Hypothetically, this [discovery] would proper the Comoros Islands up in the world reserves per capital [rankings} - it is the next milestone in the Mozambique Channel history," said Mr Mollinger.