Dodoma — THE Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, on Saturday announced discovery of new natural gas fields off the Lindi coast.
Prof Muhongo told a news conference here that on June 13, this year, the Norwegian firm, Statoil and US's Exxon Mobil, have discovered a well at Lambani Block 2, with three trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas."This is a big discovery. I am happy to tell you that the country is now having big reserves of natural gas.
"The country can utilise the resources in generation of electricity used in cars and homes," the minister explained. He said during the last three years, Tanzania witnessed a boom of oil and gas exploration companies, where the government issued 28 licences to 19 firms from nine countries.
He named the companies as Petrobras of Brazil, British Gas of UK, ExxonMobil of US, Shell of Holland, Staoil of Norway, Aminex of UK, Ophyr of UK, Dominion of UK, Beach Petroleum of Australia, Maurel & Prom of France, Wentworth Resources of UK, Heritage of Ireland, Afren Resources of UK and Petrodel of UK.
Others are Jack Resources of Australia, Otto Energy of Australia, Swala Oil and Gas of Australia, Motherland of India and HydroTanz of Mauritius. He said in the last three years 20.97 trillion cubic feet were discovered in deep sea explorations. The minister said since 1974 to date the country's natural gas resources are estimated to be between 25 trillion and 29 trillion cubic feet.
He also said Tanzania has so far not struck oil. "If that happens we will proudly tell the nation and the world immediately," he added. "The criteria used in licensing the companies include experience, technology and capital. Oil and gas explorations require heavy investment," the minister said.
He said drilling of single gas well costs between 100 million US dollars and 150 million US dollars. "Some companies drill well up to 3,000 metres deep under the sea but end up with nothing," the minister told journalists.
The minister said the government was drawing up a policy to provide guidelines on harvesting and use of natural gas in the country. He said the first draft of the policy would be ready at the end of July and would be presented to stakeholders for public hearing in September.
The minister noted that by the end of the year the process of preparing a law on natural gas would begin. He said Tanzania will soon start providing specialised undergraduate training to oil and gas scientists.