THE Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) reiterated that it will award licences to prospect for oil and natural gas in deep sea blocks and Lake Tanganyika offshore block in May, next year.
Seven blocks offshore the Indian Ocean as well as north of Lake Tanganyika will be available for the fourth round of licensing scheduled to be launched in Dar es Salaam on October 25, this year.
The deep sea blocks are located in water depths of 2km to 3km adjacent to proven prospective blocks, while the Lake Tanganyika block is located in 1.5km water depth along the western arm of the East African Rift System that is proven prospective for commercial liquid hydrocarbons.
TPDC's Board of Directors Chairman, Michael Mwanda, told a news conference that local companies and individuals were invited to take part in the tendering process which will be opened on October 25.
"If a company or an individual meets our terms and conditions will be considered for the licences. It should, however, be noted that the sector is capital intensive and risky venture," Mr Mwanda said.
The local private sector has of late appealed to the government to halt the tendering process so as to enable Tanzanians to actively take part in the exploration activities for oil and natural gas. At present, the country has proven gas reserves of about 43 trillion cubic feet but it is yet to strike oil.
Exploration is, however, still undergoing in onshore and offshore blocks across the country. "It takes about US 40 million dollars (about 64bn/-) to drill one onshore exploration well while for offshore well it is about US 120 million dollars (about 192bn/-)," Mr Mwanda told journalists at the news conference.
He also defended the current legislation of the industry, the Petroleum Exploration (and Production) Act of 1980, saying it was sufficient in protecting interests of the country. He noted, however, the legislation could be amended if need be.
Mr Mwanda said the licences will be awarded through the international bidding to companies that will be proven to have requisite technology, finances and guarantee national interests after striking oil or natural gas.