14 Sep 2005

Solomons' Mining Minister says oil and gas deposits may be vital in rebuilding economy

1:59 pm on 14 September 2005

The Solomon Islands Mining Minister, Basil Manelegua, says major oil and gas deposits in the country's waters will play a major role in rebuilding the economy.

Mr Manelegua says surveys show there are deposits in the Shortland Basin, Guadalcanal's Iron Bottom Sound and between Isabel and Western Province.

He says it is up to investors to determine whether it is economically viable to extract them, but the government already has foreign companies expressing interest.

Mr Manelegua says he thinks the extraction of oil and gas can have a huge impact on the economy.

"At the moment I am trying to work out how the economy can be achieved here - as an economy building into this country. Just like the mines and minerals that we have here and we would like these two bodies [ mines and energy] to become very strong and build the economy of this country."

The interest in developing the oil and gas comes amid efforts to restart a major gold mining operation on Guadalcanal and the granting of nickel exploration licences in Isabel.