UK firm Tullow Oil has started exploring for oil and gas in Zambia as the country pushes to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on the industrial metal.
Zambia does not produce oil, but the government says soil samples sent to European laboratories have shown good traces of crude.
Tullow Executive Vice President Ian Cloke said in a speech during the launch in Kasama that exploration would take between two and 10 years, development three to 10 years and production 20-50 years.
“We are exploring over a large area that includes Northern and Luapula provinces,” Mr. Cloke said, referring to regions in the north of Zambia.
“With Tullow’s exploration credentials, I can confidently say that if there is any oil to be found in this area of Zambia, Tullow will find it.”
Mr. Cloke assured government and the Zambian citizens that there will be maximum benefit and opportunity sharing for all as evidenced in the company’s commitment in similar projects in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
And President Lungu said at the ceremony that he was eager to receive the findings of the survey and would closely monitor the exploration work.
“Our economy has been dependent on copper and vulnerable to shocks in global copper prices, which lie beyond our control,” Mr. Lungu said.
He said this heralds the emergence of the Zambian Petroleum industry which will significantly boost government efforts of diversifying the economy from copper dependency.
“It is the first survey of its kind to be carried out in our country and, we hope, heralds the emergence of a Zambian petroleum industry which will significantly boost our efforts to diversify the economy and create jobs. As such, today is a moment of great significance for Tullow Oil and for our nation.”
“Zambia has a long history in copper mining; we are among the top ten copper producers in the world. for too long however, our economy has been dependent on copper and vulnerable to shocks in the global copper price which lie beyond our control but have a devastating impact on our communities and our society.” Said President Lungu.
And Mr Lungu emphasized the commitment of his government to diversify the economy beyond copper in order to realize the value of Zambia’s natural resources in a transparent, sustainable way for positive impact on communities.
He said the growth of an oil and gas sector is a key pillar for Zambia’s diversification policy and that his government is working hard to create the necessary regulatory and fiscal measures that will guide the development of this sector to ensure it unlocks value for all the people of Zambia and the world at large.
“I do not say this lightly. We know that to create a new industry – the petroleum industry – is ambitious. To decide to do so in a way which is transformational for the many and not the few and which future generations can thank us for, is far from easy. However, it is the only way we will progress as a nation.” He said.