Dar es Salaam — Following the preliminary findings which have hinted Lake Tanganyika as a new hydrocarbon target, some eligible international companies have already announced to venture on oil and gas exploration in the area.
Total SA, Europe's third-biggest oil company is one of them set to be offered an opportunity to explore oil and gas in the lake. The government of Tanzania has affirmed that permits will be issued to the giant oil firm in the next few months.
Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, told East African Business Week that after several talks with Total SA, the government has now decided to award it, a licence to explore for oil and gas in Lake Tanganyika, on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.
"The government is confident the oil firm has the potential to undertake the activities and will be able to comply with the minimum work commitment," said Prof Muhongo.
He added; "I am convinced that the oil firm has superior technical as well as a financial capability to successful undertake exploration activities in the area."
Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) has already divided the Tanzanian side of Lake Tanganyika into two blocks, with the southern portion having been awarded to Australia's Beach Energy in 2008.
According to him, the exploration block has the potential to contain 200 million barrels of oil. Early August last year, Beach Energy revealed in a statement that the lake has the potential for large discoveries and there are clear signs of a working petroleum system on the Congolese side.
"There is an oil slick, a natural oil seep that sits on the lake on the DRC side. I think it's the largest natural oil seep in the world. This indicates that there is a working petroleum system underneath the lake," Read part of the report.
According to Prof Muhongo, Tanzania plans to create a sovereign wealth fund that will use growing oil and gas revenue to finance development projects in East Africa's second-biggest economy. The government has just completed a second draft of a policy document for the gas industry, that's aimed at improving revenue management, he said.
"After feedback from the general public parliament is expected to vote on the policy, which hasn't been updated since 1980." he said.