THE highly awaited final Natural Gas Policy only awaits cabinet as it has already passed through all the required steps before it can formerly be used, the government confirmed on Friday.
Presenting a paper on 'natural gas policy in relation to local content' at the monthly breakfast discussions organized by Policy Forum in Dar es salaam, the Acting Assistant Commissioner for gas at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Mr Mwaro Shoo said the policy which the public has been waiting for as the government prepares form a more vibrant gas regime would be put to use once the cabinet approves it.
"The gas policy is currently at cabinet level,so we will need to wait shorter before it is approved,"he said. But the 26 production sharing agreements in place were signed with 18 oil exploration companies, using the Petroleum Act of 1980, though without a specific policy in place.
He said that so far, some 62 wells had been drilled, with 53 of them on shore and 9 wells onshore. But his revelation, while it had a positive impact on both public and private sector who want to see it put to use to confront the challenges in the sector today, it still elicited some criticism with some members asking that the government should put any further allocation of exploration blocks until it is out.
Member of Parliament for Nzega Dr Hamis Kigwangalla (CCM) took issue with the fact that there were plans to allocate more blocks at a time when there was no policy and legal framework yet.
He took issue with next month's planned fourth round of allocating oil and gas exploration to private companies, adding that transparent was important and should be evident throughout the processes of the value.
He said the Ministry should also prepare a Revenue Management Regime, so that mistakes done in the Mining regime are not repeated. National Chairman for CUF, an opposition political party, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba said local participation would achieved by ensuring active participation of Tanzanians in the oil and gas sector through the use of local expertise, local goods and services, use of locally sourced raw materials, equipment and tools.
Other analysts said the government was a step in the right direction to learn from experiences elsewhere. Renowned local Energy, Oil & Gas lawyer Paul Kibuuka of Kibuuka Law Chambers, a Tanzania based East African law firm, said experience from countries such as Norway, UK, Brazil and Malaysia where nearly 80 per cent national participation has been achieved in their oil and gas sector, noting that it shows that a good local content or national participation policy must focus on value creation in the country and others like ownership of enterprises.