The Zambian government says it will issue 10 new oil exploration licenses as it targets 2017 for its first oil or natural gas well, the Post of Zambia reported on Tuesday.
Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development Permanent Secretary Victor Mutambo said the government wanted to expedite exploration works and has since restricted exploration to experienced companies following the failure by companies that got the licenses to make progress. "We had advertised for 31 blocks in the country and we received very good response from international companies that are engaged in oil and gas exploration. Following that evaluation the petroleum committee has since picked on successful bidders and so where we are now, those successful bidders will formally apply to the ministry and thereafter, within the next two to three weeks, we will be announcing formally successful bidders," he was quoted as saying by the paper.
According to him, the 10 companies have a record of oil exploration in other parts of the world as well international reputation, adding that the ministry was now looking at firms with technical know-how in order to expedite exploration works. "It may be four to five years before we see the first well because first of all they have to do intensive seismic studies and then also analyze the data and those areas which will prove to have potential, the companies can then decide to go into drilling of the actual wells," he added.
The 10 new blocks are situated in eastern, northern,, southern and western parts of Zambia, he added.
Meanwhile, the official has expressed concern that the country has not seen major movements in petroleum exploration and attributed this to license holders holding them speculatively.
The ministry, he said, was considering revoking some of the licenses because there has been no activities undertaken.
The government had issued 17 petroleum exploration licenses to 12 companies to carry out exploration works in seven of the country's 10 provinces. Recently, the government announced that it had demarcated 77 new blocs for exploration of oil and gas.