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Decline in oil prices with limited impact in East Timor: Govt

The global decline in oil prices is having a limited impact in East Timor’s public finances for the current year, Vice Minister of Finance Helder Lopes, said on Wednesday.

“Price volatility, namely the declines, only impact 10 percent of oil left to explore,” Mr Lopes told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

“The [East Timor’s] Government is concerned, but out of East Timor’s oil wealth… [90 percent] have already been turned into financial assets, namely through our Oil Fund,” the Vice Minister explained.

Mr Lopes added the Government was now focused on diversifying the investment portfolio of the nation’s oil fund, and in diversifying the country’s economy.

“As revenues from oilfields are falling – due to a decrease in production and to [the drop in] oil prices –, we are reviewing our investment strategy to achieve higher returns,” he said.

According to East Timor’s central bank, the country’s oil fund was worth US$16.44 billion in the third quarter of 2015, down by US$420 million quarter-on-quarter, Lusa reported.