Dar es Salaam. About 2.17 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves have been discovered in coast region, the Tanzanian government has confirmed.
Energy and minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo, on Wednesday, said the discovery was made last July at the Ruvu basin onshore block.
The official announcement was delayed because the country was going through a political transition and the oil and gas revenues management Act 2015, which gives the minister powers to make such a declaration, was not yet operational, according to Mr Muhongo.
“Now that the law has come into effect and a new government is in power, we are ready to make an international announcement that we have discovered more gas reserves, but there are a few things being sorted out by the Attorney General’s chambers before we do so,” he said.
Mr Muhongo said he would soon officially announce the discovery, which, he added, would be a big boost to the country’s endeavour to have reliable energy sources.
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam that brought together government and oil and gas companies.
Mr Pilavulathill Surendran, the CEO of Dodsal Hydrocarbons and Power (Tanzania) Ltd, which is conducting gas exploration at Ruvu basin, said the discovery was made through three wells drilled by the company, adding that there was a possibility of more gas being discovered in the area.
“We have learnt that there are huge potentials of hydrocarbons in Tanzania. We expect to have more gas discoveries in the near future,” he said.
Mr Surendran added that the discovery was significant in that it was made close to Dar es Salaam, which, he said, is the main local market and a gateway to others.
The company started oil exploration at Ruvu in 2007 after signing a production sharing agreement with the government and acquiring possession of an onshore oil and gas concession called the Ruvu Block, located 30km west of Dar es Salaam.
The firm plans to increase its investment in the country by injecting an additional $50 million (Shs168 billion) into its operations in the next twelve months.
According to the ministry of Energy and Minerals, natural gas reserves discovered in the country increased by 18 per cent to 55.08tcf in April 2015, from 46.5tcf in June 2014.
The government has set aside $6m (Shs20 billion) in its 2015/16 budget for assessment and compensation of 450 people living where the facility will be built.
According to Mr Muhongo, the project will be the third largest in the country’s history after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway and the Mtwara gas pipeline.
Tanzania’s natural gas reserves currently stand at about 55tcf following new deep sea discoveries off the country’s southern coast. Tanzania is also finalising plans to set up a liquefied natural gas processing plant in Lindi.