Mengi revives gas deal debate

It is a debate that has refused to die even after the intervention by President Jakaya Kikwete himself two weeks ago. 

Yesterday, its architect came forward again, reaffirming that Tanzanians are capable of participating in $430 billion gas sector – if they are empowered.

The debate resurfaces at just as Ophir Energy, a foreign owned gas exploration firm, announced yesterday a new discovery of 700 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas.

The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation chairman (TPSF), Mr Reginald Mengi (pictured), said the citizens of this country have the capacity to invest in oil and gas exploration, contrary to the government position that locals have no financial and technical muscle needed to invest in the multi-billion dollar sector.

Mr Mengi’s comment follows the government stance that local companies don’t have enough capital and skills to engage in exploration and later on, in production of the natural petroleum.

The government, however, has said that if local investors feel they are capable, they should bid for the eight blocks which are on auction and compete with the international companies.

Tanzania has so far discovered gas resource amounting to 43 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and last month there was a launch of the 4th licensing round for Seven Deep Sea Offshore blocks and the Lake Tanganyika North Offshore block.

The private sector, through its umbrella body TPSF, wanted the licensing round halted until the new policy that would include a clause on the local participation is endorsed but the government said it would use the Petroleum Act 1980 and state interest represented by TPDC.

Mr Mengi was speaking to winners of his Twitter Best Idea at his office in Dar es Salaam, where he said it was heartening that more Tanzanians were thinking of establishing business even when they don’t have capital, so long as they have good ideas. He said having bright ideas and the knowledge of doing business can to riches.

In a move which is seen as hitting back at government officials who recently argued that locals don’t have the necessary capital to invest in the gas sector, Mr Mengi said it was unfortunate that Tanzanian leaders don’t consider their people’s brains the most important resource.

“I can give the example here, where the so-called investor comes with a mere $200 million and he is given our resources worth $400 billion… the government could have involved locals who would have asked for a joint venture with those having money,” Mr Mengi said.
Source: The Citizen, reported from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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