Zambia Extends Deadline for Petroleum Exploration Bids

Zambia's government has readvertised the invitation for bids for petroleum exploration due to overwhelming response from international firms to explore oil and gas in 23 blocks in three provinces.

The Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Maxwell Mwale said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the ministry wants to give more time to those that had not met the deadline of August 7.

The deadline has now been extended to November 6.

Mwale, however, could not give the number of bids but indicated that the tender box was full.

"The extension is to allow for more participation especially for international firms that requested for the extension," he said.

President Rupiah Banda recently constituted a petroleum committee headed by Mr Mwale and deputised by Minister of Energy and Water Development, Kenneth Konga.

In its invitation for bids, the ministry indicates that the 23 blocks are in North-Western, Western and Eastern Provinces and bidders should demonstrate a proven ability to raise the necessary funds, assets, machinery and equipment.

Other requirements include technical expertise to explore and produce oil and dispose of petroleum in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Government and stakeholders have concluded issues regarding benefits to Zambia especially for the citizens in the respective communities, with Norway assisting on the issues of potential petroleum, exploration and production of oil.

The experts have already demarcated the areas into blocks and the ministry will soon start issuance of licences after final bidders are selected following the advertisement of bids.

Last year, Parliament passed the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law after technical inputs by a committee, which was formed to finalise work on the petroleum policy.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.