Malta and Tunisia sign deal on oil exploration and exploitation
Malta’s Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo and the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelwaheb
Abdallah signed an agreement in Tunis for joint oil exploitation and exploration in zones of the Continental Shelf
located between the two States.
Malta and Tunisia have agreed to determine the exact coverage of these zones, by setting up a joint expert group soon, with a deadline set for the group to present its conclusions to the two ministers within three months.
The agreement reached between the two countries, following Dr Frendo’s 80-minute meeting with Tunisian
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Mr Abdallah, also lays out that the experts shall determine the coverage of
these zones taking duly into account any possible rights of third states and following the relevant rules of
The agreement was clinched in the morning following intense negotiations over 48 hours, which led Dr Frendo to extend his stay in Tunisia by another day and forfeit participation in the EU Foreign Ministers’ Council in Brussels.
Dr Frendo described the agreement as “a major breakthrough in an issue that has been unresolved for the last 35
years”. He further stated that he was confident that, “taken forward, it will open up tremendous
opportunities for oil exploration and exploitation between Malta and Tunisia”.
Minister Frendo expressed his special thanks to the Tunisian President for his personal commitment and friendship. Mr Ben Ali received Dr Frendo at the Presidential Palace in Carthage.
“This agreement, dealing with such sensitive issues as oil exploration and exploitation in the continental
shelf, is yet another example of the depth and closeness of the relations and friendship between Malta and
“We are both sincerely committed to developing fully a multi-level relationship between our countries and our two peoples. I look forward to working to develop to its utmost our multilevel relationship,” added Dr Frendo.
Throughout the official visit and negotiations, Dr Frendo was assisted by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Cecilia Attard Pirotta, Malta’s Ambassador in Tunisia Tanya Vella, Chris Scicluna and Mark Vassallo from the minister’s Private Secretariat and Simon Pullicino from the Malta Embassy in Tunis.