Malta attracting oil interest as Arab world experiences political strife

Political stability and attractive tax terms make for right ingredients in hopes of drilling success

 Former BP chief Tony Hayward's new oil venture Genel is to start drilling off Malta in the first quarter of 2014, as trouble in the Arab world is pushing companies into stable drilling areas such as Morocco, Malta and Spain.

"You either have to go to the technical frontiers or the political frontiers. In Morocco and Malta we're dealing with much more technical risk than political risk," Genel Energy's CEO Tony Hayward told Reuters.

The hopes are that Malta's exploration areas offer an extension of Libya and Tunisia's geology.

What the countries have in common, and what executives agree is key to nurturing new drilling, is attractive tax terms. Companies exploring offshore where developments tend to be more expensive need to find bigger fields.

Executives told Reuters that in both Morocco and Malta finds of between 50 million and 100 million barrels of oil would make for commercially attractive developments, remaining tight-lipped over details.

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