Oil discovered off coast of Mozambique

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: American oil company Anadarko has discovered oil off the coast of the African country Mozambique. It’s the first time oil has been discovered near this part of East Africa. It’s still unclear whether getting the oil out of the sea floor will make any kind of economic sense.

From Johannesburg, South Africa, Gretchen Wilson reports.

GRETCHEN WILSON: The Texas-based company says this initial find proves the presence of oil in the region.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. And the government sure could use some additional money from an oil find. Money that could go to clinics, schools and computers. But many in Africa worry that the discovery of oil isn’t always a blessing, but a curse.

Toms Selemane is with the Center for Public Integrity in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He’s worried about the possible environmental damage from oil drilling and about how much money the oil companies will give back.

TOMS SELEMANE: The discussion now is what can be done to ensure that these multinationals are really contributing to the national economy.

That’s not necessarily happening in some African nations, including Sudan and Nigeria, where oil’s discovery has also ignited armed conflict.

Mozambique’s oil management will be watched closely by Washington. The U.S. government estimates that by 2015 a full quarter of U.S. oil imports will come from Africa.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2010

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