The East African Community (EAC) has expressed optimism that the East African petroleum conference starting tomorrow will promote the region as a potential petroleum destination that can attract investors.
The three-day convention, the fourth of its kind after the one that took place in Arusha, Tanzania in 2007, will take place at the Sarova White Sands Beach Resort & Spa in Mombasa, Kenya.
Held rotationally, previous conferences were held in Nairobi in 2003 and in Kampala in 2005.
“Through this conference, the region will be promoted as a destination with potential for petroleum and, therefore, attract investments for exploration and development,” Owora Richard Othieno, the head of the EAC department of corporate communications and public affairs said yesterday.
The conference, to be opened by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, is expected to attract over 600 delegates and officials responsible for petroleum and investment promotions and other players in the industry across the region and countries neighboring the EAC.
It is believed that the meeting will be an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between EAC partner states in exploration and development, as well as harmonizing policies in the petroleum sub-sector.
Currently, the EAC is considered a heavily endowed region with resources which when effectively managed can improve the livelihoods of the over 120 million East Africans.
Rwanda has methane gas in Lake Kivu and recently, government signed a deal with an American firm that is expected to extract 100 megawatts from the lake.
Uganda has also discovered oil and gas in the Albertine Graben and has an intention of constructing a top-up oil refinery to exploit some of the oil for local use.
Natural gas has been found at Tanzania’s Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay. The country is already tapping the gas resources for generation of electricity and as fuel for industry.
While petroleum exploration is on-going in the Rusizi and Tanganyika Basins in Burundi, there are several international oil companies carrying out petroleum exploration in Kenya.
Although 31 exploration wells have been drilled in the country, no commercial discoveries have yet been made.
During the conference, presentations will be made on new exploration opportunities, evolving technologies and achievements in the search for new hydrocarbon reserves to supplement the existing fields.
The conference is taking place at a time when current global financial meltdown and marked reduction in oil prices have grossly impacted on the exploration financing base of many oil companies worldwide.