12 December 2011, Sweetcrude, Lusaka – Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly, has signified interest in exploring for hydrocarbons in Zambia, according to a statement on Monday by the Zambian Presidency.
Gazprom’s indication of interest in the oil and gas resources of the Southern African nation followed an invitation by newly elected president, Michael Sata, to Russia to send a trade delegation to examine the prospects of oil and gas exploration in his country.
The statement said the Zambian president had made the invitation during talks on Saturday with Mikhail Margelov, a special representative of the Russian president in Zambia to promote bilateral cooperation and trade.
“President Sata informed the Russian delegation that there were no facilities for producing gas in Zambia, yet the country was rich in mineral reserves,” the presidency said.
“He identified agriculture, mining (copper and coal), civil engineering, oil exploration and tourism as critical areas where the two countries could cooperate.”
In response, Margelov introduced the CEO of Gazprom, which is “interested in exploring areas for cooperation with Zambia”, the statement read.
Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, first announced it had confirmed oil and gas occurrences in its North Western and Western provinces in 2006, near the border with oil-rich Angola.
Tests on 42 soil samples from Zambia were conducted in laboratories in Germany and 19 were found to indicate positive results for oil accumulation in the subsurface, according to the mines and minerals ministry, Dow Jones reported.
Zambia has since held two bidding rounds for at least 41 oil blocks attracting a total of eight foreign and local companies.
Among the companies that have so far applied for licenses in Zambia are UK private GP Petroleum and Petrodel Resources.
Copper-rich Zambia is trying to diversify its mining sector by encouraging investments in oil and gas exploration, as well as other metals such as uranium, gold, nickel and zinc.
Zambian geologists believe the East African rift where Uganda recently discovered oil extends to Zambia’s Zambezi and Kafue valleys through Lake Tanganyika.