* Beats eight other bidders for key block
* Offshore bidding round eyed next year
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DAR ES SALAAM, Aug 16 Tanzania has awarded oil
and gas exploration rights for the northern side of Lake
Tanganyika to a subsidiary of French energy company Total SA
, its state-run petroleum agency said on Tuesday.
The Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) said
in a statement on its website Total E&P Activites Petrolieres
beat eight other bids from Australian, Canadian, British and
American companies for the Lake Tanganyika North Area block.
"Total E&P Activites Petrolieres has shown to be able to
comply with the minimum work commitment and has superior
technical as well as a financial capability over the other
bidders to undertake exploration in the Lake Tanganyika north
area," TPDC said.
Interest in East Africa as a new hydrocarbon region has been
heating up in recent years after major discoveries of oil in
Uganda and natural gas in Tanzania and Mozambique.
Lake Tanganyika is shared between Tanzania, Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Zambia.
TPDC has divided the Tanzanian side of Lake Tanganyika into
two blocks, with the southern portion awarded to Australia's
Beach Energy in 2008.
Beach Energy was among the unsuccessful bidders for the
northern block. Oil majors Aminex Plc , Ophir Energy
and U.S. independent ERHC Energy had also submitted
bids for the oil and gas exploration rights in the Lake
Tanganyika north area.
Despite having natural gas deposits, Tanzania is yet to
Brazilian petroleum company Petrobras expects to start
exploration in September for oil and gas off the coast of
Tanzania, which is known to have significant gas deposits.
Tanzania postponed its fourth deep offshore bidding round to
next year to allow it to offer new blocks discovered by a latest
The bidding round, which was initially scheduled for April,
was expected to invite bids for 13 deep offshore blocks located
around 1,200 and 3,000 metres below sea.
Among the 17 firms that hold exploration blocks in Tanzania
are France's Maurel & Prom , Norway's Statoil, Royal
Dutch Shell and Ras al-Khaimah Gas Commission of the United Arab
(Editing by George Obulutsa)