The government is so far on the right track in its strategies of drilling and extraction of gas in various areas in the Southern regions, Norwegian experts have said.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’, they said so far the government through its bodies has managed to take all required measures for drilling and extraction of gas.
Mr Gudmund Rydning, a principal engineer with Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority said the Tanzania government is making good progress and that the situation will improve as years pass by.
“Gas extraction is a process, it takes years to build the capacity and expertise, but generally, Tanzania is doing a great job,” he noted. He added that the government of Tanzania has so far managed to take pre-cautions and measures to avoid possible environmental risks. Last month, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) said that the body believes in zero fatality in both gas and oil extraction.
“TPDC is very serious on health, safety and environment. We cannot allow any company or any process to take place without considering such key issues. They are everything to us,” said a TPDC official. TPDC makes sure all exploration companies and its officials adhere to the Environment Management Act, 2004. TPDC conducts its activities by taking into account the Environment Management Act, 2004.
However, yesterday, the Norwegian expert said apart from efforts demonstrated by the government of Tanzania in oil and gas sector, it still needs to make some improvements to some areas such as increase number of experts, build capacity on issues related to gas and oil as well as ensure pre-cautions measures are considered in all extraction steps. “Tanzania has some capacity already, but it needs more, as I have said earlier, it is a long process, it takes long to develop the sector,” he said.
According to Mr Rydning, Norway encountered the same challenges when it started drilling and extraction of oil and gas about 50 years ago. He said at the moment there are more than 200,000 people working in oil and gas sector in Norway.
The Norwegian Environmental Agency Senior Advisor (International Collaboration), Mr Frank Eklo said operating companies in oil and gas sector are required to have enough capacity to respond to incidents that could lead to environmental hazards.
He said Norway has a national system, which is responsible to manage such kind of problems. He said Norwegian government has been engaged in short courses training programme with Tanzania government as one of strategies to build capacity in the oil and gas sector.
The principle Engineer (Field development) with Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Ms Aslaug Janssen said Norway is assisting to build general capacity in oil and gas sector in Tanzania.
“We are not involved in any specific project development, we are only assisting in building general capacity in the sector,” she said. She added that Tanzania has a great opportunity to learn not only from Western countries but also to other successful African countries.
She said gas is a largest export business in Norway followed by fisheries sector. Recently, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, revealed that the government will invest at least 30 billion USD (over 60 trillion/-) for the construction of a gas processing plant in Lindi Region.
In February, 25, this year, Tanzania discovered an additional 2.17 trillion cubic feet of possible natural gas deposits, raising the country’s total estimated recoverable natural gas reserves to more than 57 tcf.
Since the discovery of natural gas in Tanzania, the economy has witnessed tremendous growth, with 70 per cent of power generation coming from gas, which is currently serving more than 30 industries in Dar es Salaam.