French oil major Total is close to signing a deal to explore for oil and gas in Tanzania's Lake Tanganyika, a senior Tanzanian petroleum official said recently.
Total won a bidding round against eight other companies in August 2011 to explore the block but has been unable to do any work in the area while it discussed terms of a production sharing agreement (PSA) with the government.
"Total is in the very late stages of negotiation," Meshack Kagya, senior principal petroleum geochemist at the state-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp., told a gas conference.
Tanzania, east Africa's second-biggest economy, became a player in energy this year with several onshore and offshore gas finds, attracting multinational explorers to the area.
The country reportedly has about 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, which could make it a major energy exporter.
Total's PSA application is one of six the government is currently processing for companies. Two PSAs are for onshore blocks, and the others are for deep sea exploration spots.
Lake Tanganyika, where Total's new exploration area lies, sits on the western border of Tanzania and the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Bodies of water that sit on onshore borders have been notoriously hard to explore as disputes over who owns the resources beneath lakes and rivers often erupt between countries.