As public optimism for potential fossil fuel in the region raises a notch higher after the recent discovery of oil and gas reserves in the EAC, partner states have assured petroleum investors of profitable returns on their investments since the economic bloc is a signatory to international conventions through which their business ventures are protected.
According to stakeholders of the economic bloc, a number of incentives are on offer from the five partner states to make sure they operate in a conducive environment.
“The partner states are making every effort possible to attract investors in the petroleum upstream sector,” said Zanzibar’s second Vice president, Seif Ally Iddi, in his remarks at the close of the 6th East African Petroleum Conference and exhibition in Arusha recently.
Remarking towards the end of the three-day conference, Seif Ally noted that East Africa has been a prospective area for petroleum exploration for some time, but the rate of exploration and results has not been comparable to the potential that exists in the region.
In that regard, he was optimistic that the conference would greatly help the region’s efforts towards increased exploration and development and affirmed the partner states’ readiness to consider the comments and recommendations from the conference on the ongoing harmonization of the EAC petroleum policies, legislation and fiscal regimes.
The chairperson of the Sectoral Council on Energy and Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni, also noted that the broad and varied international representation during the conference was a clear indication that East Africa is becoming a key player in the oil and gas business.
She added that the conference has become a remarkable event in the region and in the global oil and gas calendar.
She affirmed to the delegates that the EAC Partner States would continue to put in place attractive policies and conducive legal and fiscal regimes to govern exploration, development and production of the region’s petroleum resources in accordance with international best practices.
On her part, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Jesca Eriyo, asserted the harmonization of petroleum policies in the Partner States will help streamline investment efforts within the region.
The biennial event was celebrating a decade of existence this year, having held its first edition in 2003 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Currently, exploration in Kenya has intensified in the four large sedimentary basins of Lamu, Anza, Mandera and the Rift Valley.
In Tanzania there are indications of hydrocarbon potential but little exploration has been carried out. The major discoveries have been the Songo Songo and the Mnazi Bay gas fields.
In Rwanda, oil exploration is taking place in the East Kivu Graben, in north western Rwanda.
The discovery of oil reserves in the region has led pundits to wonder whether East Africa could be the next oil hotspot after West Africa and the Middle East.