The case for East Africa

Posted by David Bamford



East Africa still seems relatively unloved as a petroleum province and yet it has a number of positive aspects:

  1. There is a regional entity, the East African Community, which draws together Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (but not Mocambique). There is a declared ambition to bring energy to the combined population of 150+ million but little yet in the way of actual development or actionable plans.
  2. Post Brexit, the UK Department of International Trade (DIT) has declared an Oil & Gas High Value Campaign for East Africa, the aim being to deliver opportunities for UK companies in the region. DIT has representatives in-country and an officer in Whitehall who carries the regional responsibility: DIT's current early focus seems to be on the big gas (LNG) developments offshore Tanzania and Mocambique (see 3.).
  3. There is no shortage of resources and reserves. Significant oil has been found onshore in the rift plays of Uganda and Kenya; there is commercial gas under production in Tanzania, and at least one further discovery; there are world class (??100 Tcf) gas discoveries offshore Tanzania and Mocambique; there is the potential for a significant oil play in the coastal region from northern Mocambique, through Tanzania, potentially into Kenya, first evidence of which may be provided by recent wells drilled by Aminex in Tanzania and Sasol in Mocambique,
  4. There is current production of gas in Tanzania at Songo Songo, Kiliwani-North and Mnazi Bay. There is an under-utilised pipeline from the producing fields up to Dar-es- Salaam.
A possible starting point is for an interested party to commission an energy supply/demand simulation to serve as a long term energy planning tool for use by the East African Community and also DIT. A logical sequence would be to begin with work on Tanzania and then expand to include Kenya and Uganda, and to examine the role of Mocambique.

Exploration for oil in the coastal region would depend on some innovative geophysics being applied onshore and in the shallow water transition zone – but this is technology we know how to use. The same applies to possible extensions of the rift plays southwards from Kenya and Uganda, perhaps as far south as Malawi and Zambia.

For wider ranging views on this still underappreciated region, please take a look at this review from a recent Finding Petroleum event.

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