KAMPALA, Uganda - The Tanzanian government Monday said that it would delay a licensing round for up to nine deep-sea oil and gas blocks, previously slated for this month, to allow parliament first to ratify a new natural-gas policy next month.
In a statement, the state-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp. said that the delay will allow the policy to be ratified before the start of the next round.
"As TPDC is the key player in the preparation and consultation of this policy document, their management and staff will be unable to attend the previously scheduled roadshow events throughout September and October," TPDC stated.
The licensing round will include nine blocks sitting between 1,200 meters and 3,500 meters of water depth. The blocks on offer include new areas and blocks that have been relinquished by current operators.
According to TPDC, despite the postponement, bid round data packages will be available for review and purchase by the end of September.
"This will allow...potential investors in Tanzania an extended the time period to evaluate the technical data and assess the prospectivity of the nine blocks on offer," TPDC said.
Tanzania continues to attract international oil and gas companies following a spate of huge natural gas discoveries.
In June, the country announced that new natural gas discoveries had pushed its reserve estimates up to 28.7 trillion cubic feet from 10 trillion cubic feet.
The East African nation is trying to revamp its natural resource laws and policies to ensure that it "benefits" more from the recent gas discoveries.
In July, the government announced that it would renegotiate the production-sharing agreement with Pan African Energy Tanzania Ltd., which operates the country's largest gas field Songo Songo to enable TPDC to get "better profit-sharing arrangements".
Among the companies with oil and gas exploration licenses in Tanzania are Canada's Orca Exploration Group Inc., Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA and U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corp.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that East Africa's coastal region holds up to 441 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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