Tanzania asks Malawi to halt oil search

2012-07-30 19:46

Dar es Salaam - Tanzania has asked Malawi to stop oil and gas exploration activities in Lake Malawi until a border dispute between the two countries involving the lake is resolved, a Tanzanian official said on Monday.

Last October, Malawi said it had awarded oil exploration licences to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in Lake Malawi, which is also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

"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," said Assah Mwambene, a spokesperson for Tanzania's foreign affairs ministry.

Lilongwe awarded Surestream Petroleum licences for blocks 2 and 3 in the disputed lake, with a combined area of 20 000kmĀ².

Tanzanian officials said the 50-year-old territorial dispute between the two countries could escalate if significant oil and gas discoveries are made in the lake.

Mwambene said Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe told his Malawi counterpart, Mganda Chiume, that ongoing oil exploration at the lake could jeopardise talks between the countries over the dispute.

The two ministers met in Dar es Salaam at the weekend to discuss the territorial dispute, Mwabene said.

"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 said.

Tanzania, which made huge natural gas discoveries off its Indian Ocean coast, said last month it had nearly tripled its estimate of recoverable natural gas reserves to as much as 28.74 trillion cubic feet.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-31 07:30

    There is going to be a whole lot of infighting in the search for oil on the African continent, everyone wants a piece of the pie, and this will cause border disputes of astronomical proportions.

  • kevin.pitzer - 2012-07-31 09:23

    A whole lot of Berlin walls.....Boundaries were established at the Berlin Conference of 1884-5 in the form of 50 different geographical regions. Many of the borders established in this conference are still in existence today creating conflict amongst the peoples of decedents trying to stake claims to what once belonged to their ethnic groups creating sometimes deadly conflicts in recent years. The main fighting is because of the vast amount of natural resources. The 14 European powers that held this conference had no considerations of the peoples of Africa. These new lines created havoc when these new lines split ethnic groups and communities.

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