National interests must be upheld in every deal on gas and oil exploration in Tanzania, the country’s Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, George Simbachawene, has told legal counsels and hydrocarbons experts holding a five-day meeting here.
“Though Tanzania has not started drilling oil, there are possibilities to do so in the near future and our lawyers must be very conversant with these kinds of contracts,” Simbachawene said, pointing out that benefits from exploitation of natural resources should trickle down to the people.
“You should be patriotic to defend national interests in all contracts with multinational companies that undertake oil and gas exploration in Tanzania,” he said.
The meeting has brought local and some foreign experts together to take an overview of Tanzania’s exploration contracts, following discovery of rich natural gas fields in the coastal area.
Currently, Tanzania uses about 200 million cubic feet of gas a day to produce electricity while plans are in progress to double gas production before the end of 2013.
Oil and gas exploration firms operating in the country include US giant Exxon Mobil Corporation, Australia’s Beach Energy Ltd., France’s Total and Aminex PLC of the UK.
“There companies are searching for oil in the Indian Ocean and in Lake Tanganyika. It is prime time for our lawyers to get prepared,” Simbachawene said, urging the lawyers to be involved in every stage of hydrocarbon exploration.
Meanwhile, an official of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), Elias Kilembo, said his firm has set up a platform for discussion between lawyers and other experts because the exploration for gas and oil was at a very advanced stage.
“We need to have a common view of where we are and this includes the contracts we’ve reached,” he explained, noting that the sector is not only sensitive but requires a win-win situation between the government and investors.
“This forum is important at this time when there is public outcry on some of the mining deals concluded between Tanzania and foreign companies. To us this is a way forward to address some of the challenges facing the sector,” Kilembo added.