An Australian firm Invictus Energy, in partnership with the Zimbabwean government, is exploring for oil and gas in the northern Zimbabwe area of Muzarabani.
The firm claims the Muzarabani exploration is the “largest undrilled conventional oil and gas prospect onshore in Africa”, which could contain an estimated 283.2-billion cubic metres of gas and almost 250-million barrels of oil.
The drilling for oil and gas in the Mazarabani area was initially set for June, but was postponed due to customs clearance delays for drilling equipment in Tanzania and Mozambique.
In a statement, Invictus Energy said the site was completed and handed over to civil contractors and drilling was expected to start in August.
“The Mukuyu-1 well pad has been completed and handed over. The full rig arrival has been held up due to customs clearance delays in both Tanzania and Mozambique en route to Zimbabwe, with drilling now expected to commence in August.”
Invictus Energy MD, Scott Macmillan said another 110 loads will arrive in the country over the coming weeks, carrying more rig equipment ahead of drilling.
Last year, president Emmerson Mnangagwa said the government was excited about potential oil and gas discovery in Zimbabwe, as the “untapped oil and gas deposits present huge, unique and competitive investment opportunities” for the country.
But environmental groups have expressed fears that drilling for oil and gas will have a negative impact on the surrounding communities.
Farai Maguwu, the director of Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) told TimesLIVE that the project will cause biodiversity loss and environmental degradation in the area.
“This is a very big project and the lifespan of the project is long. Muzarabani area has a vulnerable community, vulnerable to climate change, droughts and floods. The community is also very poor, we are going to see a massive impact on the ability of the community to feed itself, mainly because of the oil pollution that is going occur in the area,” said Maguwa.
“Also looking at biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, which has already started in that area — the clearing of the forests, villagers are now walking longer distances to get firewood. The project is going to construct huge infrastructure for oil and gas drilling, hundreds of families will be displaced to make way for the project,” Maguwu added.