Tanzania in move to avoid oil war with Malawi

31 July 2012, Sweetcrude, DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzania has urged a halt to Malawi’s oil and gas exploration activities in the disputed waters of Lake Malawi.

The emerging East African powerhouse wants to resolve a border dispute over the stretch of water with Malawi before exploration activity continues, Reuters reported.

The foreign affairs ministers or both nations met in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam at the weekend to discuss the continuing territorial dispute, according to the news wire.

“Malawi claims that the whole lake belongs to the country according to colonial boundaries … But our stated position is that half of the lake belongs to Tanzania,” Reuters quoted Assah Mwambene, a spokesman for Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry, as saying.

“Some planes have been spotted flying over Tanzania’s side of the lake conducting the oil exploration activities … there is still room for negotiations over the correct border between Tanzania and Malawi,” he continued.

In September last year Malawi awarded Surestream Petroleum of the UK the Rift Valley acreage of Blocks 2 and 3 in Lake Malawi, beating competition from Tullow Oil, New Age, Ophir Energy, Kosmos Energy and the Lonrho Group.

The company is due to begin shooting 5000 kilometres of 2D seismic over Burundi’s portion of Lake Tanganyika next April on blocks B and D.

Early this year neighbouring Mozambique put on hold plans to offer acreage in a part of Lake Malawi which it claims. A restricted bidding round was due to be launched early last month but this was postponed due to”unforeseen reasons”, the country’s National Petroleum Institute said in January.

About the Author

  • Tanzania’s peace initiative must be supported by the AU and multilateral donor agencies to starve of any dispute that may degenerate to warfare. Africa must be spared anymore bloodshed.