Zambia to Issue Oil Exploration Licences By October

Source: Reuters 7/22/2010, Location: Africa

Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, will issue oil and gas exploration licences to seven foreign and local companies by October after approving new licencing fees, Mines Minister Maxwell Mwale said.

Mwale said only two local companies bid for four of the 23 exploration blocks Zambia advertised in December 2009 in six of the southern African country's nine provinces. The bids were yet to be evaluated by the petroleum technical committee.

"The petroleum committee will licence the companies that were awarded blocks for them to commence exploration before the end of the dry season this year," Mwale said in a statement.

Mwale said non-oil producing Zambia had faced difficulties to attract investment in the sector, but hoped confidence would build once the exploration companies started getting positive results expected to trigger an influx of petroleum exploration companies to invest in the country.

Mwale said the government was also finalising new petroleum regulations for the effective monitoring and regulation of the petroleum sector but did not give further details.

Britain's GP Petroleum and Petrodel Resources, Glint Energy of the United States and Exile Resources of Canada were chosen in November along with Zambian firms Majetu, Barotse Petroleum Company and Chat Milling Company Ltd to explore for oil and gas.

Zambia, which relies on copper mining for most of its foreign exchange earnings has said soil samples sent to European laboratories have shown good traces of oil, particularly in areas bordering oil-producing Angola.


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