HARARE, ZIMBABWE -Energy companies have struck a significant natural gas deposit in northern Zimbabwe, near the country’s border with Mozambique and Zambia. The Zimbabwean government anticipates that the discovery, if effectively harnessed, could alleviate the nation’s dependence on costly imported energy.
Zhemu Soda, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Mines and Mining Development, heralded the breakthrough in the Cabora Bassa Basin, situated approximately 300 kilometers north of Harare, as “one of the most significant developments in the onshore oil and gas sector in the southern African region.”
Invictus Energy, an Australia-based company, played a pivotal role in the discovery. Scott Macmillan, the Managing Director of Invictus Energy, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “It’s obviously a significant development in the company’s history…the first Triassic discovery in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the significant developments in the onshore oil and gas industry for many decades.”
The company holds approximately 360,000 hectares in the Cabora Bassa Basin for oil and gas exploration, utilizing equipment and data left by Mobil in the 1990s. With a contracted rig for the next two years, Invictus is optimistic about the future.
Macmillan remarked, “It’s obviously a fantastic start,” referring to the confirmation of the discovery at Mukuyu 2, an area in the Cabora Bassa Basin. The Mukuyu region has proven promising, despite setbacks like the collapse of Mukuya 1 before the confirmation of gas presence.
However, not everyone welcomes the $20 million gas and oil exploration project. Farai Maguwu, the founding director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, expresses concerns about potential displacement of local communities, environmental destruction, and underground water contamination.
Maguwu advocates for renewable energy as a viable solution, emphasizing its business sense and ability to provide clean and affordable electricity, especially in rural areas. He points out that those in rural areas already benefit from renewable energy, which offers greater energy sufficiency compared to urban areas.
Zimbabwe, grappling with persistent energy shortages, primarily relies on thermal and hydro equipment that falls short of meeting domestic demands. The government pins its hopes on the gas discovery in the Cabora Bassa Basin to usher in a new era of energy stability and independence.