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Zimbabwe says it just made a significant gas discovery – but not everyone is gassed up about it |


News24


  • Zimbabwe has announced a potentially significant gas find close to its border with Mozambique.
  • Samples are now due to be independently verified.
  • But ordinary Zimbabweans can be forgiven for a measure of doubt in the discovery yielding fortunes for them. 

A new gas field discovered in Zimbabwe could be one of the most significant ever, the country has announced, to some weariness among citizens who feel they’ve heard this all before.

Zimbabwe’s government announced the find alongside Australian-listed Invictus Energy, with Energy Minister Soda Zhemu describing it as “one of the most significant developments in the onshore oil and gas sector in Southern Africa.”

The gas field is in the Cabora Bassa Basin in Muzarabani District, close to the border with Mozambique, which is home to large, confirmed gas deposits.

In a statement, Invictus, which has been working on the site for a decade, said the find was “the first-ever Triassic-age gas discovery in sub-Saharan Africa”.

The Triassic Age Period lasted from 252 million to 201 million years ago.

Invictus said it would send samples for independent verification in the US.

If the samples check out, it will be a long time before Zimbabwe sees the result. For instance, exploration in Mozambique’s oil and gas-rich Cabo Delgado province began in the 1960s but it was not until 2009 that viable deposits were found.

It then took a decade for TotalEnergies and partners to invest more than R380 billion, but insurgencies in 2017 delayed the project.

The wells in Zimbabwe are exploration operations, not production, geologist Paul Chimbodza, whose company Geo Associates has a 20% stake in the operation, warned.

A long road – with some missteps

The government of what was then Southern Rhodesia performed an oil survey in the country in 1979 but concluded that there was nothing worth pursuing.

Later, American petroleum giant Mobil Corporation in 1989 sought a three-year exploration deal with the Zimbabwe government, with a 32-year extension for development if large enough quantities were discovered.

It was from Mobil’s secondary data that Invictus began its work.

But more recent events in Zimbabwe have left some citizens weary of any claims that energy riches are to be had.

In 2007, then-President Robert Mugabe dispatched his most senior ministers to investigate what could have been the world’s greatest modern-day miracle: Diesel pouring from rocks. The high-powered delegation of Mugabe’s most trusted ministers lined up barefoot before self-proclaimed spiritual healer Rotina Mavhunga in the Maningwa Hills in Chinhoyi. Mavhunga was subsequently arrested for fraud when her con was uncovered.





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