Preliminary data suggest there may be commercially viable petroleum deposits around Zanzibar.

Local exposure to and awareness of sustainable oil and gas practices is low as there has been a limited history of commercial crude oil extraction.

Therefore, Zanzibar should prepare for the possibility of finding oil and gas and managing it well to avoid the natural resources curse.

Oil and gas in Zanzibar may come from two sources: onshore and offshore production, thereby having synergies with the land and blue economies respectively.

The Minister of Blue Economy and Fisheries, Suleiman Makame Ali, told the House of Representatives recently that the project that would be officiated next fiscal year.

He said the project will be implemented under Blue Economic Development Programme, adding that SH 11 billion has been allocated to implement various development projects including the construction of the facility.

Speaking at a three-day training on the oil and gas sector for civil society organizations and journalists organized by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), the Director for Health and Safety from the Zanzibar Petroleum Regulatory Authority (ZPRA), Mwadini Makame Haji, said the data center is meant to house all the Isles geological data.

He said when completed the facility will store important oil and gas information which is currently stored at the facility owned by the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).

Data centers are one of the largest multibillion-dollar projects, with South Sudan building a similar facility located at Juba-Yei Road at a cost of more than US$4 million (more than Sh10 billion).

According to Mwadini, ZPRA in collaboration with RAK Gas, will undertake another phase of oil and gas exploration using 3D seismic survey “for purpose of promoting the area for petroleum exploration and development.

This is one of the most important techniques to help geologists and engineers to find out where possible hydrocarbon is thousands of feet below the earth surface.

Modern high-quality 3D seismic surveying is now able to provide high-definition images of sub-surface structures and this has proven to be highly successful in the discoveries offshore Mozambique and Tanzania Mainland.

The expectation on the comprehensive mechanism for sustainable oil and gas exploration, operationalizing oil and gas-related policies and related regulatory frameworks;

Also, ambition for substantial infrastructural and investment capacity, human capital, and revenue management related to a sustainable oil and gas exploration and commercialization; and

Furthermore, inclusive oil and gas investment promotes local community development through technology transfer, training, and local content requirements where applicable.

The priority area does not have any indicators as it is emerging and contingent on the availability of substantial oil and gas deposits, thereby lacking baseline data and suitable targets.

However, successor short-term strategies and the evaluation of ZDV50 in 2030 should incorporate the following indicators where applicable:

Share of oil and gas industry to GDP, proportion of total employment in oil and gas, growth rate of oil and gas industry, volume of the value of oil and gas exported.

According to Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) manifesto section 175(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) on Oil and Gas in Zanzibar states as the;

To continue research exploration on oil and gas under the management of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (SMZ).

To collaborate with Zanzibar Petroleum Development Company (ZPDC) and Zanzibar Petroleum Regulatory Authority (ZPRA) in order to contribute to oil and gas investments, to continue collaboration with oil and gas companies in and outside of the country, to capacity human resources on oil and gas, to construct a data repository center in Zanzibar.

The East African history on oil and gas exploration is of about 6 decades of unsuccessful exploration until recently. Zanzibar lies in the Coastal Basin of East Africa where active hydrocarbon exploration activities are being conducted. The basins comprise huge deposits of marine-based sedimentary rocks with high hydrocarbons potential. Following the establishment of the Zanzibar Mineral oil Decree Cap 107 and Mining Decree Cap 108 of 1955, an exploration well was drilled on each of the two main Islands. The two wells, code named Zanzibar 1 and Pemba 5, were drilled by BP/Shell group based on surface geological surveys. Both wells indicated limited hydrocarbon shows at the time.

The hydrocarbon shows from these two drilled wells, the oil seep at Tandauwa and the calculated rock maturity index (vitrinite reflectance from 0.6-1.2). indicated signs that the source rocks within the area were mature hydrocarbons generation. In addition to the other boreholes drilled in the East African region, the two wells provided enormous geological and stratigraphic data. No further advancement in drilling was performed after the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964.

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