Arusha — The region has agreed to cooperate in joint exploration and development of the energy resources found, an official of the Tanzanian government has said.
"This is a positive development for the region because we cannot achieve meaningful integration without sufficient and reliable energy accessible to its entire citizen at an affordable price," said Tanzania's Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.
He was speaking at the official opening of the two-day sixth East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition (EAPCE) held last week at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) in, Arusha, Tanzania.
Pinda noted that the region has witnessed steady growth in petroleum exploration activities since 2003 when the conference was initiated for the first time.
He disclosed that in 2003, EAC had a total of 58 wells drilled compared to today's 158. Pinda informed delegates that at the time, Uganda for example had only two wells and now it has 64 wells and more are lined up.
"Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay in Tanzania were the only discoveries in the region, but now several gas discoveries have been made and possibilities for more discoveries exist."
"In 2003 the region had only 13 companies interested in undertaking exploration in the region, today more than 56 and negotiations with more companies are ongoing," Pinda told delegates.
Pinda disclosed that the existence of vast reserves of methane gas in Lake Kivu in Rwanda have boosted the profile of East Africa as a promising and attractive destination for petroleum prospecting.
Pinda observed that all the blocks in Burundi had been licensed and collection of seismic data had commenced, while affirming delegates that the highest levels of leadership of the East African Community were fully committed to develop an enabling environment for business and investments in all sectors. In Rwanda, surveys indicate the existence of a sedimentary basin in western part of the country and around lake Kivu.
Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Uganda's State Minister responsible for EAC Affairs Shem Bageine noted that the conference was taking place at a time when the integration process for the EAC Partner States had gained momentum and its benefits had begun to manifest.
He said the conference provides good opportunity to show case the initiatives going on in the Partner States in the sector.
Tanzania's Deputy Minister of Energy and Minerals George Simbachawene said the East African Region was previously considered to be gas prone, but it was learnt during the first petroleum conference that only Tanzania had commercial gas discoveries in the Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay Gas fields.
To-date there are oil discoveries in Uganda and Kenya and more gas discoveries in offshore and onshore Tanzania.
The Deputy Minister reiterated that the East African Region was emerging as a new zone for investment and therefore the need to develop the discovered potential in a sustainable manner for development of the region and the region.