Tanzania: Mistrusts Delaying Exploration of Oil, Natural Gas

Dar es Salaam — Mistrusts among major players in oil and natural gas are delaying further exploration and development of the sector, experts said yesterday, calling upon a national dialogue to find solution to the challenge.

The government, investors and communities surrounding natural gas reserves have differing views and aspirations, experts noted at the launch of a new book on energy yesterday.

Titled: Governing Petroleum Resources Prospects and Challenges for Tanzania, the book is edited by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Donald Mmari and Kendra Dupuy.

Understanding about oil and gas amongst Tanzanians was still low, with communities around the areas where natural gas is found believing that there was too much theft in the sector. On the other hand, companies are afraid of investing fearing their resources would be taken away.

"We have had conversations, but there is no trust. We talk but we don't understand each other as investors feel that their resources may be taken away while citizens also think that the former is simply taking their resources away," said an energy expert, Prof Sufian Bukurura.

But speaking at the book launch, deputy commissioner for gas in the ministry of Energy, Mr Sebastiani Shana, said the government was progressing well with its talks with companies on the exploration and development of Tanzania's natural gas.

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"The government is progressing well with its talks with companies so that they [companies] can begin harvesting gas in offshore. The goal is to increase the use of natural gas which is environmentally-friendly," he said. He said the book has come at the right time when people needed to get enough knowledge about petroleum resources.

The Repoa executive director, Dr Donald Mmari, said the book writing exercise in 2014. The book analyses the long-term process of how a country develops the institutions that govern resources and the choices it makes in doing so as well as the incentive structure underpinning those choices.

He said the book suggested it is important to develop trustworthy relations between stakeholders by investing in comprehensive and transparent monitoring and evaluation system for Local Content Policy (LCP) implementation and makes it clear to all stakeholders.

A researcher from Norway, Prof Odd-Helge Fjeldstad said the government must strive to contain public expectations to manage the sector well. "The speed here in Tanzania in discovery is very slow as compared to global business trends. Other energy options are coming up and it will reach a time when the world will no longer need that product," he said.

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