Saturday, 27 June 2015 00:00

Hydrocarbons exploitation force Mozambique and Tanzania to discuss ocean borders

Bob Gumbe and Inacio Silva
[Maputo, Mozambique] The entire border of Mozambique and Tanzania defining the terrestrial and maritime borders are defined by natural resources. Ruvuma River defines the terrestrial border while the Ruvuma Basin in the Indian Ocean does the same to the oceanic border of the two nations.

In the recent past these two nations have experienced major booms on their offshore after major hydrocarbons discoveries. The two nations are now in a tight race to exploit the massive gas finds which have attracted energy majors such as Anadarko Petroleum, ENI, CNOOC, Galp-Energia and ONGC-Videsh among others.


Mozambican President Felipe Nyussi (right) being received by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete [Image Credit: CM]

But the hydrocarbons windfall has also led to new border fears between the two nations. Even though the Ruvuma Basin maritime borders are clearly demarcated the two nations fears have been expressed regarding the high gas resource basin.

Within the Ruvuma basin Mozambique has already discovered more than 100 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and Tanzania has recently passed the 45tcf mark. At the moment the two nations are keenly exploring gas monetisation strategies such as petrochemical plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals and gas-to-power electric plants. In Mozambique a $26billion LNG facility is currently being considered. 


LNG Tanker. In Mozambique a $26billion LNG facility is currently being considered. [Image Credit: CNMP]

This visit was meant to quell fears emanating from the finds and cement business and political relations.

To calm these fears Mozambican President Felipe Nyussi visited Tanzania in May accompanied by four top Mozambican members of his cabinet notably interior minister Basilio Monteiro, foreign affairs minister Oldemiro Baloi and their energy and natural resources counterpart Pedro Couto together with Ernesto Tonella the industry and commerce minister.

In his three-day state visit, President Nyussi also visited the Isles of Zanzibar where he met the Island’s leaders and later addressed the Tanzanian parliament. In his address to the Tanzanian parliament which played a crucial role in Mozambique’s liberation struggle President Nyussi called for peaceful and harmonious exploitation of the natural resources present in both countries.

In the recent past Tanzania has had strained relationships with its neighbours. Relations are still sore with Malawi over Lake Niassa (Mozambique), Lake Nyasa (Tanzania and Lake Malawi (Malawi) which is shared between the three nations and believed to hold massive hydrocarbon deposits. While there is no dispute with Mozambique over the lake it is not the same with Malawi. , that has been disputed between Tanzania and Malawi, is also suspected to hold hydrocarbons and is also shared by a third country: Mozambique.

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