Hope as Eyasi-Wembere Basin shows oil signs

MINISTER for Energy, Mr January Makamba has stated that Tanzania is yet to strike oil but exploration activities are still undergoing especially along the Eyasi-Wembere Basin which has shown prospects for discovery of the precious liquid.

Makamba made the remarks recently during a meeting with Simiyu Regional Commissioner, Mr David Kafulila, hinting that there are chances for the country to discover oil along the basin.

The Eyasi-Wembere Basin traverses Karatu District in Arusha region, Iramba and Mkalama districts in Singida in addition to Meatu District in Simiyu region as well as Kishapu District in Shinyanga region and Igunga District in Tabora region.

The basin is located in North-Eastern Tanzania within the East African Rift Valley and shares similar geological features with other areas in East Africa which have discovered oil namely Lake Albert in Uganda and Lokichar in Kenya.

Meanwhile, whilst natural gas currently accounts for about 60 per cent of electricity generation in the country plans are afoot to expand its use for industrial production, domestic use and most importantly for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicles.

The Director General of Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), Eng Modestus Lumato, noted recently that the use of CNG for vehicles has been low due to shortage of filling stations, high cost for installing gas supporting equipment into vehicles and lack of adequate public awareness on its benefits.

“We have already issued permits to some operators of petrol filling stations to as well make provisions of CNG pumps at their facilities to enable more motorists to access natural gas for their vehicles,” he remarked.

Tanzania currently has only one mother station (major CNG depot) operated by PanAfrican Energy Tanzania Limited and two daughter (filling) stations at Ubungo Maziwa and another one along Nelson Mandela Expressway in Dar es Salaam.

However, Eng Lumato said the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) and an Egyptian firm plan to construct two mother stations along Sam Nujoma Road to enable filling stations to access the energy from the depots.

On the other hand, he said plans are underway to hold talks with the government so that it reduces or waive taxes on equipment used in converting CNG vehicles.

“We believe the reduction of taxes will encourage more people to convert their vehicles to run on gas while at the same time the government earns revenues from the sale of product,” he asserted.

Eng Lumato explained that the Dar Rapid Transit Agency (DART) has shown interests to start using CNG-powered buses in other phases, adding that the agency is also planning to convert its buses which are currently operating.

“All this is possible because technology for the conversion is available in Tanzania. For instance, Dangote Cement factory in Mtwara has converted over 600 trucks to use both CNG and diesel.

“I call upon other motorists to make use of CNG because it is cheaper and Tanzania as a country has a say on its prices compared to petroleum products to which we do not have control over,” he elaborated.

Tanzania currently boasts of natural gas reserves totaling 57.54 trillion cubic feet (tcf) on offshore and onshore of the Indian Ocean.

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