July 17, 2013 / 4:47 PM / 4 years ago

Tanzania extends Afren's oil/gas exploration licence

DAR ES SALAAM, July 17 (Reuters) - Tanzania has extended an oil and gas exploration licence held by London-listed explorer Afren and its partner for four more years, the country’s energy ministry said on Thursday.

Afren, the operator with a 74 percent interest, and joint venture partner Petrodel Resources Ltd hold a production-sharing agreement in the Tanga Block, which is located offshore and onshore north-east Tanzania.

“The first licence extension of four years granted to the company will enable it to continue with oil and gas exploration activities in the offshore deep-sea area and in the onshore area east of Tanga region,” the ministry said in a statement.

Recent natural gas finds in offshore Tanzania have led to predictions it will become a major hydrocarbons exporter in the years ahead. Tanzania itself estimates its recoverable natural gas reserves at over 41.7 trillion cubic feet.

Afren announced a farm-in to Petrodel’s Tanga Block in March 2011. Petrodel was awarded the block during Tanzania’s 2005/06 bidding round.

The licence includes onshore, shallow marine and deep marine areas.

The Tanzanian block lies south of Afren’s 100 percent owned and operated Blocks L17 and L18 in neighbouring Kenya.

“A 620 km2 3D seismic survey was completed in January 2013 and processing is being fast tracked in order to bring the deeper water prospectivity to equal technical maturity as the shallow water prospects and allow the group to optimise the prospect selection ahead of exploration drilling,” Afren said on its website.

“Afren and partners have identified a rig to drill the deeper water Calliope prospect and have a Letter of Intent (LOI) in place with the rig contractor.”

The ministry’s permanent secretary, Eliachim Maswi, said earlier this month Tanzania would require a signature bonus of at least $2 million from firms winning blocks in an October oil and gas exploration bid round.

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