* Tanzania has become a hot spot for gas exploration
* Residents want greater share of gas development
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DODOMA, May 22 Residents of a gas-rich region of
Tanzania rioted on Wednesday to protest that they would not
benefit from a government budget proposal to construct a
pipeline from their territory to the capital, senior officials
Tanzania estimates it has more than 40 trillion cubic feet
(tcf) of recoverable natural gas reserves. Discoveries off east
Africa's seaboard have led to predictions the region could
become the world's third-largest exporter of natural gas.
Residents of the southern Tanzanian Mtwara region are
opposing the construction of a 532 km (330 mile) pipeline -
financed by a $1.2 billion Chinese loan - until they get a
bigger share of the benefits from gas development.
Tanzania's deputy home affairs minister, Pereira Silima,
said riots had erupted in Mtwara but could not give details.
Local media reported that police fired teargas, several
buildings were torched and one person was killed.
The government first announced a plan for the pipeline last
year. The riots took place shortly after Tanzania's energy and
minerals minister, Sospeter Muhongo, presented his ministry's
2013/14 budget proposals in parliament including the pipeline
The riots forced the country's parliament to postpone debate
on the budget proposals on Wednesday.
"Mtwara (residents) had planned to cause problems during the
presentation of the budget proposals of the ministry of energy
and minerals, and they have done so ... I am adjourning this
parliament session until tomorrow," the speaker of the National
Assembly, Anna Makinda, announced.
The state-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation
(TPDC) said Mtwara was one of two regions in southern Tanzania
where onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants will be built.
Norway's Statoil, Brazil's Petrobras,
Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp are
among energy companies exploring for oil and gas in Tanzania.
British gas firm BG Group said earlier this month it
would present the Tanzanian government with proposed locations
for a big LNG terminal in the next few months.