Oil exploration exercise kicks off in Zanzibar

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ZANZIBAR kicked off the crucial second phase of oil and natural gas exploration, a seismic survey that will finally establish if hydrocarbons exist in quantities that justify commercial exploration.

There are already high hopes after initial Full Tensor Gravity Gradiometry (FTG) survey conducted from March this year on Pemba and Unguja Blocs indicated the presence of the petroleum resource.

According to the Lands, Water, Energy and Environment Minister, Salama Aboud Talib, the survey, which will be carried out by BGP explorer, will include offshore deep water, transition zone/ offshore shallow water and onshore explorations in Pemba and Unguja.

“The deep water survey will last after one month while shallow water and onshore surveys will be concluded in eight months. The BGP will then interpret the data in a process that will take between 12 and 24 months” revealed the Energy minister.

Ms Salama added that three BGP explorer vessels will be performing offshore explorations whilst dynamite explosives will be used during the onshore exploration.

“The seismic survey is a geographical study using shock waves to produce detailed images of local geology to determine the location and size of possible oil and gas reservoir,” she explained.

The President of China National Petroleum Corporation, Mr Gou Yunhui, who represented RAKGAS, a Ras Al Khaimah company which has financed the project at the tune of 32m US dollars, shared the optimism of most Zanzibaris over the prospects of large reserves of oil and gas.

Mr Yunhui recalled his encounters with two Zanzibari students, who nursed dreams of a brighter future in the wake of the ongoing oil and natural gas explorations.

“Last year…in Pemba and Unguja, I saw the determination of young students going to school and looking for the future with brain and a lot of potential there, one of them, I remember his name is Abdulrahman, was asking me what I was doing here.

“Looking for oil? I said yes… he said; would we be like Saudi Arabia and United Emirates? I said... I hope so… so I hope everything will improve in Zanzibar.

“During my visit to Unguja, I remember meeting this young girl, Aisha, and she asked me the same question, and I told her yes, she said; ‘I dream of driving a Ferrari…

I said I do too! He said the second phase of exploration, which will include the acquisition of the site map, was crucial in identifying drilling locations, which he expects to be acquired in two years time.

He said during the exercise, samples will be collected to help determine whether or not there are reserves of oil and natural gas on the Isles and how big they might be.

According to him, the preliminary results from the first phase survey have already been doctored, with the final result expected to be out in a couple of months.

Zanzibar Second Vice President, Ambassador Idd said the seismic survey was a crucial step towards the final phase of drilling exploratory wells, and lauded what he called a historic achievement by the Indian Ocean Archipelago.

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