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Somalia PM Unaware of Reported China Oil Deal

Somalia's interim prime minister says he is not aware of a reported deal that would allow China's state-run energy company to explore for oil in the country.

Tuesday's edition of the London-based Financial Times newspaper says the Chinese oil company CNOOC and a smaller Chinese firm are planning to begin survey work in Somalia's Puntland province later this year.

But the newspaper also quotes Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi as saying he knows nothing of an agreement granting the Chinese exploration rights in the country. He tells the paper that no such deal can be reached until the nation's parliament endorses a new oil law.

The Financial Times reports it has seen a document signed last year by Somalia interim President Abdullah Yusuf which gave two Somali officials power to negotiate an oil agreement with China.

Somalia has no proven oil reserves. However, China has been investing heavily in Africa as it seeks new energy supplies for its growing economy.

Puntland province has been relatively free of the violence plauging southern and central Somalia.