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Tanzania to Choose Winner of Eyasi-Wembere Block by August

Tanzania will probably decide by August who will evaluate one of its last undeveloped oil and gas exploration areas that may lead to a production-sharing deal.

The one-year geophysical surveying contract may pave the way for drilling under a production-sharing agreement, said Wellington Hudson, senior principle petroleum geologist at national oil company Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp.

The three companies that submitted tenders in closed-bidding are Beach Energy Ltd. and Swala Energy Ltd., both based in Australia, and U.K.-based Adamantine Energy Ltd., he said.

“This is one of Tanzania’s frontier areas,” Hudson said today by phone from Dar es Salaam, the nation’s commercial hub. “This area has never been prospected, it’s completely new.”

Growing interest in exploration in East Africa has been spurred by the discovery of oil in Uganda in 2006, finds of natural gas in Tanzania and Mozambique, and the announcement in March that Kenya had struck its first oil. Tanzania has at least two commercial deposits in production.

BG Group Plc and Ophir Energy Plc said May 16 they had made another discovery off Tanzania, encountering 55 meters of gas about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the maritime border with Mozambique that may hold 3.5 trillion cubic feet of resources.

The so-called Eyasi-Wembere block in the country’s north, near the border with Kenya, sits on the Rift Valley, and part of it runs through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Hudson said.

There’s been no development of the block previously because of environmental concerns at the World Heritage Site, he said.

“It’s an environmentally sensitive area and the government wants to do a non-adverse, non-destructive study which has limited impact on the environment,” Hudson said.

The area is home to wildlife roaming the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Plains, as well as Alaitole, the site where some of the earliest evidence of human footprints was found.

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