There is growing interest in the exploration of oil in Malawi with several companies on the waiting list following the awarding of contracts to Surestream, Sac oil, Rak Gas and Pacific Oil, Business News has established.
Surestream and Sac Oil were awarded licences during the first run of applications in 2011 while Rak Gas and Pacific Oil got their licences in the second run of applications in 2014.
But the third run to award licences is awaiting a review of petroleum legal instruments, which will start with the development of the policy expected to be in place by June 30 this year, and the Act by June 2018.
According to head of oil and gas in the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mining, Cassius Chiwambo, there is huge interest by companies to drill oil in Malawi.
“Currently, we have an Act of 1983, as well as regulations of 2009, which we are using, but we need to have a one-page licence, unlike the current 11-paged one,” said Chiwambo.
According to Chiwambo, some of the companies on the waiting list, include Bahari Resources Limited, which is a private Channel Islands-registered company with oil and gas interests offshore the Comoros Islands; Pan African Oil Ltd, which provides exploration of crude oil and natural gas projects and was incorporated in 2007 and is based in Calgary Canada; Nu Energy Petroleum Corporation and Kainsha Energy Limited of Zambia.
Recently, President Peter Mutharika declared that Malawi will go ahead with oil exploration on Lake Malawi because the project is important to the country.
But the decision to grant licences to companies to explore oil, especially on Lake Malawi, has not gone down well with some environmental activists, including Godfrey Mfiti, who is on record as having said the exploration will destroy Lake Malawi’s ecosystem.
In 2016, government lifted its ban on oil exploration on Lake Malawi in the hope of getting lucrative business.
The move seems to have also jolted Tanzania into action and recently the Eastern Africa country, which borders Malawi to the north, expressed interest to have a share of Lake Malawi oil reserves.
“It is not a secret that Malawi has started exploring oil on the lake. As far as we are concerned, we would also want to benefit from the same resources,” Tanzania’s High Commissioner Victoria Mwakasege told our sister newspaper Weekend Nation.
The two countries are yet to agree o the ownership of the Lake Malawi which many believe has emanated from the oil discovery. n